5 Tips For Forming An Effective Budget
Creating a budget is crucial when it comes to financial success. And as Forbes has pointed out, it’s not just something for businesses anymore, but rather something individuals kneed to be doing. Many people seem to neglect this for one reason or another; some might think it is too difficult or it takes too much time, and some may just not see the necessity. The truth, though, is that budgeting can save you money and put you in better financial standing –– with relatively minimal effort!
With that in mind, here are five tips that will help you to establish a good, effective personal budget:
1. Identify the big numbers first
As the boss of your own finances, you must first have a big-picture idea of what you’re losing and what you’re gaining. To this point, AskMoney mentions that the two main components of a budge are income and expenses –– money coming in, and money going out. By clearly identifying these overarching numbers (usually over the course of a few months averaged out to monthly income and expenses) you can begin to recognize whether or not you need to cut spending.
2. Record all of your expenses
Most people don’t actually readily know how much they spend each month. You might know some of the bigger recurring expenses: rent, car payments, student loan payments and such. But the little things add up to, and are important to track. If you record each expense and save every receipt however, you can calculate your expenses at the end of each month, figure out an average, and not only adjust the “big number” but begin to form a detailed breakdown of where and how you spend your money.
3. Estimate your total income, including side lines
Learning how to estimate your total monthly income is a vital part of developing an effective budget. And as with expenses, you have to start by adding up all different types and sources, including any money from side hustles –– which according to Business Insider are only becoming more popular. This means counting regular job income, money from those side gigs or freelancing projects, investment gains, and so on, all as one lump sum. Even if you feel that it’s only natural, you’d have a firm understanding of your income, you might be surprised at the end of each month if you actually sit down and add it all up! Even if it’s not a surprise though, clear numbers and the closest thing to a monthly average you can come up with will benefit you.
4. Use software tools
With modern-day technology, you also don’t have to calculate your budget using traditional pen and paper anymore. Instead, there are many apps that can do it for you. Our previous article on the “Top Best and Free Online Budgeting Tools” pointed out many advantages you gain from using apps –– such as linking bank accounts to auto-pay, tracking progress towards specific savings goals, and generating charts and graphs that act as visual aids. The apps are easy to use, and take much of the budgeting process out of your hands.
5. Make Your Plan
Ultimately, the point of gathering the information above –– the big numbers, the refined looks at income and spending, and the details gathered in an app –– is to make your plan. With that information all handy, you’ll understand more clearly what money you can count on coming in, where it tends to go, and how you can reorganize your habits to maximize cash on hand while still fulfilling your obligations. That, in effect, is having a sound budget!
Financial freedom begins with an effective budget. By following these tips, you will be five steps closer to achieving financial success and enjoying your hard-earned money.