Resolutions. We all make them. Every year, come January, we map out how much weight we are going to lose, what food we want to start eating- or stop eating, what habits we want to break, what trips we want to go on, or loans we plan to pay off. By the time December rolls back around, regrettably, we have failed to stick to our guns. This year, we’ll help you talk the talk AND walk the walk. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could end the year knowing you went on that vacation of a lifetime, took care of some debt, and still had fun money left over? Follow our guide to planning a budget, and we’ll make sure this year is one of the most successful years. Here’s how:
1. Calculate your monthly income.
Simple enough, right?
2. Count all of those ball-and-chain expenses.
List out your non-discretionary expenses. These are the expenses you must pay every month. For example, rent/mortgage, gas, water bill, groceries, car payment, Credit Card payment, student loans—basically any living expenses that are always due and aren’t going anywhere.
You’ll want to establish a financial goal or two. These goals should align with the things that are important to you and make you happy. When establishing your goals, ask yourself these questions: What do I want to accomplish? Why is this goal important? How will I know when this goal is accomplished? Is my goal realistic? Is it attainable? Is my goal worthwhile? How will my life benefit from this goal? Is this the right time? When do I want to achieve this goal?
Some goals you can set for yourself are:
- Saving for a vacation.
- Pay off a Credit Card.
- Pay off your student loans.
- Build an emergency fund.
- Start saving for a long-term goal (retirement, a new home, or car).
Once you have set your goals. Calculate how much money you need to dedicate to the budget each month to achieve them.
4. The fun stuff.
List an estimated amount you spend on discretionary expenses—or the “non-essentials.” These are expenses such as concerts, trips to Starbucks, vacations, clothing, etc.—all of the fun stuff.
5. Do the math.
Now, brace yourself. Add the total of your expenses and subtract that number from your income. Ideally, we’d like this number to be positive. Meaning that you make more money than you spend, and now you can focus on having a happy new year. If your number breaks even or you get a negative number, you are spending more than you earn. This is an easy fix. Look back at your discretionary expenses, and focus on the ones you can live without or cut back on. Whether this means you ditch your Netflix subscription or you just start making your coffee at home, this will help your budget in the long run.
Having a budget is very important not only for achieving financial success but also for living a happier, stress-free life. When you stick to your budget, you won’t worry each month about how you plan to pay for this, that, and the other. Staying true to your goals will fill you with a sense of joy you can’t put a price on.
Is planning your budget making your head spin? Let’s chat! Schedule an appointment, so we can help you tackle your budget. The solution may be as simple as transferring your balance to one of our low-rate Credit Cards. Click here to learn more about a balance transfer.