Are you tired of struggling with your finances every month? Does it feel like you have no idea where your money goes? A proper budgeting might be helpful for you here. Budgeting is critical to smart money management, yet many find it tedious or overwhelming.
However, budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated. Understanding what a budget is, learning tips for creating one, and using strategies for sticking to it can help you gain control of your finances, achieve goals, reduce stress about money, and live the life you want.
In today’s article, we will clear all your doubts about creating a budget and sticking to it. Read on!
Also read: What is a budget – A beginner’s guide
What is a budget, and why is it important?
A budget is a great way to keep track of your income and expenses, along with your long-term financial objectives.
You might think of creating a budget as a rough estimate of your income and expenses for a specific time frame (a month or a year, for example). On the other hand, a family budget considers the income and expenses of all the members in the house.
The best way to create a budget may be as simple as listing all of your expenses or as elaborate as narrowing down your focus to specific categories. What works for someone may not be helpful for another; thus, there is no one best approach to budgeting.
However, there are specific ways we can make the process more manageable if you are wondering how to make a family budget and stick to it.
So, why is it important to stick to a budget?
Making and sticking to a budget gives you a comprehensive overview of your financial condition. It helps you keep tabs on your costs on a monthly basis. You know you have an excellent budget when you pay all of your bills on time and still have money left over at the end of each month.
Whatever your financial objectives are, a budget may help you map the road towards your goals. Moreover, if you put money aside every month in your spending plan to build an emergency fund, you can use your budget to protect your money in case something unexpected happens.
Most importantly, a budget may help you feel more in control of your financial situation and less stressed about money.
How to create a budget?
Calculate your after-tax monthly income
Determine your monthly income. That’s the first step. Your net income is the sum of all your earnings less the amount you must pay in taxes.
Your net income is likely to be the amount shown if you get a regular paycheck from your company, regardless of your employment status. In a family budget, not only should you and your spouse record each paycheck, but you should also make note of any additional income you get from things like side gigs or freelancing.
If your income is irregular, put your lowest estimate of your average income here and make any necessary adjustments later in the month.
List your total monthly expenses and categorise them
After you have a good idea of your income, the next stage is determining your expenses. Keeping tabs on and organising your expenses may reveal where your money is going and what you can cut down on easily.
Divide your monthly spending into four groups: fixed (rent, loans), essential variables (food, medicine), non-essentials (travel, entertainment), and periodic (insurance payments or subscription fees).
Set realistic budget goals
Now that you have all the necessary information, write down your short- and long-term budgetary targets. Establishing an emergency fund and reducing credit card debt are short-term goals that must be reached within one to three years.
On the other hand, achieving long-term objectives, like planning your retirement or saving for your children’s education, might take decades.
Select a budgeting plan by categories
It ultimately boils down to this: the difference between your actual spending and your intended spending. Use the list you made of fixed and variable costs to estimate your monthly expenses. Make a note of your priorities and net income after that.
You may split your net income into three parts by percentage using the 50/30/20 budgeting guideline. In this method, you’ll divide your net income as follows: 50% for necessities, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings and investments.
Review and adjust
Making a family budget isn’t a one-time thing. If you want to stay out of debt and ensure you have enough money to fulfil your goals, keeping track of your income and expenses and regularly readjusting them is vital.
How to stick to a budget?
Automate your monthly savings: Save time and effort by automating as much as possible so that the funds you’ve allocated for something specific get saved without you having to do much.
Use tools to track your spending: Even if you’re not technologically savvy, using an app for budgeting is a good idea. Many digital budgeting applications these days are free or pretty affordable and are user-friendly, simple, and effective for sticking to a budget.
Avoid impulse buying: Make sure to avoid any kind of impulse buying. It’s helpful to give yourself time to think about whether you need to buy a particular thing to avoid this kind of scenario.
Check your social calendar: Remember to make plans for birthdays and other important occasions ahead of time. Make a mental note to look at the calendar for upcoming occasions and put money aside for them when creating your budget.
Ditch your credit card: If you’re worried about going overboard with your spending, using a checking account and avoiding credit cards altogether could be wise.
Have an accountability partner: If you want to be held responsible for decisions that go over budget, try finding an accountability partner. It is also a good practice to connect with your accountability partner to review progress and plan the next month’s spending once a month.
Getting on a budget and sticking to it may seem boring, but taking control of your money is exciting! With some effort upfront to create a realistic plan and dedication to tracking spending, you can easily achieve your biggest money goals.