If you’re constantly looking at your bank account and wondering where all your money went, then it’s probably about time you created a budget. A budget is a roadmap to help you manage your finances during each month, which will save you a lot of stress in the future. Whether you’re a college student or stepping into the workforce, below are some tips to help you create a budget that can also save you some money.
1. Analyze your current financial status
Now’s the time to sit down with a pen and paper and get down to business.
Write down your total monthly income. That total should include your salary or however much you make at work. You can also add in money you make from your side hustle, and money your parents may send you every month.
Next, you want to go through all of your fixed monthly expenses. That includes rent, your car payment, car insurance, phone bill, subscription services and more. Be sure to write out when each bill is due and the amount. Then, add up your total monthly expenses.
Now you have the actual amount of money you’re working with each month, and you also know exactly how much money you need to set aside to make sure your bills are paid.
2. Break down each bill
Within your budget, you should include how much money you want to dedicate to expenses that may fluctuate. Those kinds of expenses can include gas for your car and groceries. It may be easier to stick to a budget for gas, because you know how often you need to fill up your car and how much it takes to do it. Groceries can depend on your lifestyle, who you live with and the time of year. But again, you know best how much money you should set aside, so try to set an amount and stick to it. Sometimes you may go a little under or over your budget, but that’s okay––that can’t always be helped.
3. Figure out how much money you need to set aside for bills each check
Now that you know exactly which bills need to be paid and when they need to be paid, begin keeping track of which days you get paid during the month. This can help you to see which bills should be paid with which check, and will also help you to decide how much money out of your check should go toward those bills. Whether you’re paid weekly or biweekly, you have to make sure to stay on top of this so that no expense slips through the cracks and causes you to be blind-sided.
4. Track unnecessary spending
We all have areas where we tend to spend more than we should. It might be clothes or eating out or buying way too many books that you don’t end up reading. Check your last month of spending and see what that area is for you. Did you spend way too much on UberEats? Is there a subscription you’re no longer using? See where you can cut back so that you can save more money. Now, don’t judge yourself while you’re doing this! It is what it is, it happened, and now you have the opportunity to fix it.
Tip: Something that may help you to stick to your plan of not overspending is to add up how much money you wasted on unnecessary things during the previous month. Think of where that money could’ve gone instead, and how much stress it could save you in the future.
5. Don’t forget to put money into savings
One of the things you should be working toward is building a savings account. Even if you don’t have anything you’re saving for in particular, it’s still a good thing to have just in case something goes wrong. Experts say you should have at least $1,000 set aside just for emergencies. You may not think you’ll need it, but when your tire goes flat or you need to make an emergency trip out of town, you’ll wish you’d had it. Look within your budget to see how much you can realistically save.
6. Bring in some extra cash
No matter your financial status, having extra money is always a plus. These days, there are so many ways you can do this, including delivery services and starting a side hustle.
7. Remember to be flexible
Budgeting is something that is very personal to you, your financial situation and your goals. Your budget probably won’t work for someone else, and someone else’s budget probably won’t work for you. So take what you can from others and tailor it to your own needs.
Also keep in mind that as your life changes, so will your budget. Be flexible enough to adjust amounts as needed and to figure out what works for you. Some people may not agree with your money decisions, but they don’t have to. As long as it works for you, that’s all that matters.
8. Remember to pay yourself
Don’t forget that there’s still room in your budget to have a little fun! After you’ve decided how much you need for bills and how much you can save, see how much you can set aside for yourself. Taking care of yourself is super important and a lot of times, you need money to do that. Get yourself a little gift or treat yourself to dinner every now and then.
A few resources:
- Clever Fox Budget Planner: This planner will help you to do all your budget planning. There are sections for you to plan by month, keep track of your expenses, debt payments and much more.
- Shay Budgets: This YouTube channel is so good! Shay gives you tips on how to budget and also shows you how she does her budget. She’s pretty transparent and offers good advice on managing your money.