Making and sticking to a budget is a key step to getting a handle on your debt and working towards your goals.
Making a budget
Let’s say you want to save up for a down payment on a house, a vacation, or for your emergency savings fund. Until you have an understanding of how much money you have and where it’s going each month, it’s difficult to make sure you have enough left over for your goals.
- Analyze your spending habits
- Look for areas where you can cut back
- Use the worksheet to create your budget to see where you’ll stand each month
Creating a budget will help you figure out if you have enough money to cover your needs and obligations, while also having enough to save or spend on something extra you may want for yourself or your family. Be sure to update your budget if you experience a change in employment or your spending habits.
Sticking to your budget
Cutting back on fixed expenses, like housing or car payments, could potentially require major changes like moving to somewhere more affordable or selling a car. You can also consider refinancing your house or car payment at a lower interest rate in order to save more money. But there might be other areas that are more manageable.
For example, if you spend $350 per month on groceries, you might decide to buy food in bulk to decrease the amount you spend on groceries to $300. Once you find ways to cut on spending, put these new target spending levels into your budget.
You’re not alone if you struggle with impulse purchases. Here are some ways to help with that:
- Set a weekly spending limit for small purchases. Consider setting aside cash for these purchases at the beginning of the week. When you’re out of cash, you know you’ve used up your budget.
- Check your balances before going shopping and set a spending limit based on your budget.
- Compare your actual spending to your budget on a regular basis. Make adjustments to your budget if need be.
Remember, making and sticking to a budget can help put you one step closer to reaching your goals.
Take control of your finances
The Get a Handle on Debt series gives you tools to manage your debt by budgeting smarter, paying your bills on time, tracking your spending, paying down existing debts, and earning extra income. You can also get money management strategies sent directly to your inbox by signing up for our Get a Handle on Debt boot camp.