Now that the holidays are over many of us are thinking about making adjustments in our spending. Maybe you spent more on gifts than you had planned or perhaps you went out to eat more times than usual.
It is never too late to create a budget for yourself and your family. Even if you think you have a good handle on your expenses, it is always beneficial to know exactly what your expenses are and where you are spending the most money. Once you know what areas you are spending the most in, you can decide what you can save on. These additional savings can be used to help pay off debt, save for a future purchase or an emergency.
To start, collect all of your bills including insurance, rent, utilities, credit card statements, receipts, medical bills etc. Think about your daily routines, do you buy lunch and dinner or do you make your own food at home? Make sure to include your spending at coffee shops or restaurants. There are many online tools and apps that can help you divide your spending into easy to visualize categories. Once you have calculated your total expenses, subtract that number from your income. If this number is less than zero or not as large as you would like it to be, evaluate things you can cut out or save money on.
Setting and sticking to a budget can help reduce the stress of financial burdens and provides an action plan for your financial future.
- Be realistic with your budget. If this is your first time working within a budget, don’t set unachievable expectations.
- Set a goal. Determine how much you want to save each month before you spend any money. Find something you are saving for (ie. emergency fund, retirement, home)
- Start with the most important stuff first. What are the needs and what are the wants in your expenses? Start by setting money aside for the needs.
- Make a plan to pay off debt. This may seem overwhelming but check with your bank to see if there are representatives to help you.
Sources: Consumer.gov. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.