How to Make A BudgetPosted on: March 24, 2010
A budget is critical to financial success. We hear it all the time. We can understand it. We can agree with it. Yet, many of us haven't made one or can't stick to one. The reason isn't personal failure, it's the fact that most of us have never been educated on how to make a budget or how to keep to one. There is one budgeting principal that is absolutely key. If you understand nothing else, understand what we'll talk about here.
The most critical point about a budget is that it must include all known expenses. If it comes out of your bank account, it must be in your budget.
Gathering expense information can be tough as many expenses are hard to nail down or remember or keep track of. A great way to be sure you have all your monthly expenses and a reasonably good estimate of what they are is to save your receipts for a month. Keep them all in one place in a file or an envelope. At month end, organize the receipts by expense and where you have multiple receipts, such as for gasoline, average them to arrive at a single figure. Combine the receipts with any items in your check register or your online record plus your monthly savings goals.
Another expense is your monthly savings goal. This might seem strange, but treating savings as an expense will help you made sure to put that money away so it's there when you need it. Savings include funds for long-term retirement and college education planning, as well as short-term goals such as a vacation or new car.
Now factor in non-monthly expenses, such as an annual car insurance payment or a seasonal storage fee and allocate money each month to cover those expenses.
Now you know how much money is left for everything else.
Keep a record of expenses as you pay them each month. It's easy to forget which ones have been paid and which haven't. It won't be as much of a chore as you might think. Once you know what your expenses are, you will have a greater sense of control over your money. Checking off your obligations each month should provide a sense of satisfaction. You will have earned that spending money you budgeted for yourself.