If you feel like you are a little short by the time the end of the month is over, after you have paid all the bills, wondering where the rest of your bank account went, you are not alone. In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, only 32% of Americans put together a budget to track monthly income and expenses. That means that two-thirds of the population have a spending free-for-all each month, so it is important to stay ahead of the curve.
Have to Start Somewhere
Sure, it may seem like common sense, but actually creating a monthly budget can be a difficult task. You are essentially tracking every dollar coming in and going out, and setting aside a certain number of funds to use for necessary monthly bills, gas, food, and spending, while still putting funds into a savings account. When tracking spending, you will actually have to go line by line, examining to see if it was a necessary or unnecessary expense. When looking to budget for items such as gas and food, you will need to see what you average in a month in expenses in order to build into the monthly budget.
Check & Make Adjustments
So, you have built your budget, now the trick is seeing how it works. There will be an adjustment period for sure to make sure you set aside enough money to budget for not only your necessary bills, but allowances for other expenses such as food, gas, and spending money. While taking all of this into account, the most important should be focused on savings accounts. You can have a budget making sure there is enough money to pay the bills each month, but if there are not sufficient funds going to savings or retirement accounts, then adjustments will need to be made.
Use Cash Instead of Plastic
When you use actual physical money during a transaction you can see it leave your hand and into the cash register, gone forever. If anything, it should give you plenty of flashes in your mind; thinking how many hours it took you to make that, and hopefully what you could have bought instead. While a return can surely occur, hopefully a lesson is learned when it comes to spending: your hard-earned money should be spent wisely. When you use a credit card it seems like almost free money, not having to worry about it until the statement comes in the mail, sending you into shock.
Stick to It
Much like anything else in life, practice makes perfect, and just like going to the gym being the longer you are away the less you are to go, same goes with a budget, the less you use it, the less any effect it will have. If you keep your spending and saving priorities in sight, keeping the eye on the prize, you will be on your way to holding down a successful household budget, something most Americans are not able to accomplish. Work with your family as a team, and hold each member accountable, striving for financial greatness.