5 Tips for a Better Budget
Having a budget can help you to manage your money better, including saving for retirement, going on a vacation, and saving for your next big purchase.
Budgets are great because they keep you mindful of your income and expenses. With a monthly budget, you will know how much you can spend in a specific category each month, what saving and spending areas need to be worked on, and so on.
But, what if you don't have a budget, or your budget just doesn't seem to be working for you?
The average family carries a lot of financial stress. Many households carry student loans, credit card debt, a mortgage, car loans, and many times, other forms of debt such as medical, furniture, and more.
Here are five tips for a better budget.
1. Have a goal.
My top tip for having a better budget is to have a goal for your budget. What are you hoping to accomplish by having a budget and managing your money better?
Your goal(s) for your budget may be to:
- Save for retirement
- Go on vacation
- Stop living paycheck to paycheck
- Pay off your debt
And so on, and so on.
By thinking about this, you will be able to find more motivation to succeed with your budget, which will make it much easier.
2. Evaluate your expenses regularly.
Spending can creep up on you, and due to that, you should evaluate your spending regularly.
So many people do not realize that they spend large amounts of money in certain areas of their life, which can hold them back from reaching their financial goals.
Try to review your spending monthly to evaluate what categories you spend the most in.
3. Be realistic with your income and spending.
To create your best budget, you need to be realistic.
In order to correctly see where your money is coming from and where it is going, you will need to find all of your receipts, bank and credit card transactions, and think of anywhere else that you may spend money at each month.
You could also take it a step further by tracking everything for the next month or two, this way you know you're not missing any expenses. This means recording every single transaction with a note that tells you exactly what you bought (if a receipt is not itemized). Then, at the end of the month, you can evaluate your spending.
Being realistic with your income and spending is important, as you will see where your money is going, so that you can see what you need to work on.
4. Have regular family budget meetings.
Having regular family money meetings is extremely important to having a successful budget and being successful with your financial goals.
There are many ways conducting regular money and budget meetings and being aware of your financial situation can help you.
- You can work together and succeed. Teamwork is great!
- By knowing your financial situation you can create and keep a budget that works for you. You will know more about the amount of money you are spending, whether you are living paycheck to paycheck, and more.
- Everyone should be aware of their financial situation. It's not fair for one person to manage it all, and you would be in for a rude awakening if something were to happen to that person.
- When you are open about money in your relationship, you are less likely to have financial surprises and money fights. Both of you will be aware of what's going on when regular money talks and budget meetings are conducted.
You and your partner will most likely want to sit down once a week, once a month, or whatever timeframe works best for the two of you (the key here is that you just want it to be regular!). You may want to try out different lengths of time to see what does and doesn’t work for your family.
5. Adjust your budget when/if needed.
I recommend going over your budget on a regular basis, as your life and your budget can change.
Your income may change, your spending may change, or your goals may change. When something changes, you should adjust your budget to reflect that so that your budget is always working for you in the best way possible.
The Empower app is a great way to keep track of your financial life.
Some of the other things you can do with Empower include that the app:
- Displays all of your accounts in one place so you get a more complete picture of your finances.
- Seeks out savings in everyday transactions, such as your monthly cable bill or insurance policy.
- Allows you to make better financial choices by finding higher interest savings accounts and more.
- Helps people increase their credit scores by watching your credit utilization rate and reminding you about payments (so that you don't forget to pay a bill!).