One of the most important aspects of running your household is having a budget. A budget is a road-map telling your money where to go. It helps you track your spending and keep your spending in different categories under control.
Start with the basics
A budget may sound like a simple thing but you need to stick to it on a regular basis to make it work. First you need to know how much money you have coming in and going out each month. If you do not know how much you spend on various categories such as groceries, dining out, clothing, etc start tracking your expenses. For at least a week, or preferably a month, write down everything you spend money on. At the end of the week, or month, look at your spending to help allocate money to the various categories in your budget. It is also a great time to take a look to see if there are expenses that could be cut down, or cut out completely.
Do what works for you
For a budget to work and to get you to stick with it you need to find a format that works for you. It can be as simple as a notebook and range to computer software. The main thing is to find something that you are going to keep up. Try to enter the information at least once a week or once a month. If you wait until there are several entries to make you may find yourself dreading to start doing it and eventually give up completely.
Budgets are not “one size fits all.” You may hear of families spending a certain amount per month on groceries, clothing and other categories. You need to find an amount that fits your household. Households have varying diets and habits which can affect the amount of money they spend on certain items during the month. It works better to find an amount that works with your household and your budget instead of going with amount that other households use. With that said, you need to stay within or below that amount of income that is coming in each month.
Don’t budget too much
As with dieting, when setting up a budget allow yourself some “blow money” that you can use on things not in your budget. If you restrict yourself too much you may get frustrated and give up.
Many people think of budget as a “4-letter word,” but it is an important key to a successful personal finance life.