Budgeting is a skill that’s useful for everyone, especially for those that are interested in improving their financial literacy and credit score! Getting started can be overwhelming though, as there are so many factors to consider, including all varieties of your income, expenses, and savings goals. Creating a budget that’s personalized to you doesn’t have to be a struggle, and CashFurther can support you on your journey of budget creation and maintenance. To learn the steps to develop and implement a basic personal budget that’s a perfect fit for your life, read on!
Choose Which Type of Budget is Best for You
Make sure you start simple – if you try to include too many factors or use a complex organization method before you’re ready, you could discourage yourself from sticking to the budget. Explore the budgeting methods below and choose which one fits your lifestyle the best.
Envelope System: With the envelope system, you’ll need to have all of your money in cash. Each month, set aside a specific amount according to your budget for things like groceries, and place the exact amount of cash for that category in a corresponding envelope.
The 50/30/20 Budget: With this type of budget, you’ll break your expenses into three categories: Necessary expenses (50% of budget), discretionary expenses (30% of budget), and savings/debt payments (20% of budget).
Pay-Yourself-First Budget: This method is particularly useful for those looking to pay off certain debts or put a significant amount towards savings each month. With this budget, you contribute a fixed amount towards your debt or savings, and then use the rest of your income for the month however you personally see fit.
Identify and Record All Relevant Income and Expenses
The spending area of your budget should be prioritized when creating your budget. All of your monthly expenses, including recurring ones like rent and phone bills, are listed in this area. Make sure you’ve kept thorough records of the expenses you’ve had over the past month that you can refer to before you begin writing down your spending habits. Examine your bank and credit card statements as well as any other monthly payment accounts, such as student loans.
You should also have detailed records of your income. Whether you work multiple contractor jobs or a singular W2, your budget style and capabilities aren’t limited by your employment status. When creating the income section of your budget, be sure to include all forms of income including any side hustles. If the money you earn tends to fluctuate each month, be honest with yourself and use the most realistic average to represent your income. Don’t include one-time payments like tax returns or gifts, because these won’t be replicated each month.
Implement Your Budget with Realistic Goals
To start putting a cap on any excessive spending, cut out any extraneous expenses from your budget. While it’s totally fine to indulge in an expensive purchase from now and then, sticking to your budget will require you to make sacrifices when it comes to the more frivolous financial things. Make sure to include in your monthly budget any costs that cannot be reduced, such as your grocery bill and utilities. Add realistic savings targets last. You’re more likely to save money if you say on your budget that you’ll set aside a little portion of your monthly income each time.
Check Your Budget Regularly and Remember Why You Started
As you progress with your budget, make sure you check in regularly. This means checking bank statements, credit card statements, and any other financial documents to see if your financial progress is in line with your budget. You can do this weekly or monthly, but it’s important to do it regularly to identify any issues and successes you’re experiencing. If you get discouraged with your budget, it’s helpful to remember why you started. You created this budget as your first step to financial literacy and freedom, and sticking to it every day will allow you to reach your goals quickly!
Join the CashFurther Community
Starting out with a budget and looking for financial support? CashFurther is a resource and community built by and for people who are committed to being better with money – and could use some tools, information, and support to do it.