You are here

Managing a Budget

Managing your income and expenses is an important part of being well. Get control over your financial wellness with these budgeting tips!

Think about why are you budgeting-- what's your long term goal? Figure out where you want to be before you try to get there.

You'll need some info to start budgetting: income (after taxes), fixed expenses, variable expenses, occasional expenses & savings.

Start by figuring out how much money you make. This is the amount you have to work with every month.

If your income varies (you're self-employed, part-time, etc), take your annual income & divide by 12. This is your monthly income.

Fixed monthly expenses tend to stay the same (or close to the same) every month. They include rent, internet, utilities, etc.

Variable expenses change from month to month. They include gas, groceries, daily coffee, meals out and entertainment expenses.

Occasional expenses come up from time to time, such as gifts and vacations. You should plan for these:

Make room in your budget for short-term emergency savings AND longer-term savings to help you reach your financial goals.

If your budget doesn't balance you have two options: spend less or earn more. Borrowing should never be a long-term solution.

Reduce fixed expenses first, as this will save you money every month. Check out some tips for common ones:

Think critically about your variable expenses. Don't spend money you don't need to. Cut back where you can:

Thinking about moving out? Make sure you have a realistic idea of what it will cost. This worksheet is great:

Cheap out on entertainment. Instead of going to a movie, borrow a few flicks and grab microwave popcorn on sale.

Can't figure out what you spend? Keep a notebook (or app) with you & record every expense. Other option: keep your receipts.

Take a good, hard look at your spending records after a month or two. You'll likely see some obvious cuts you can make.

Depending on how much you need to save, you may need to make some hard decisions. Work out your priorities and cut the surplus.

Stop using credit cards. It's easier to overspend because you don't see the money come out of your pocket. Go back to spending cash.

Let your friends know you are managing your money. You can plan affordable activities together and they can act as referees.

Even if you aren't in a place to make more money yet, learn some new skills or meet new people to be ready when opportunity knocks.

If you run into unexpected expenses, sell unwanted items or do odd-jobs. If this expense happens monthly, start budgeting for it.

Rethink your purchases. Do you really need them? Could you get it at a better price? Buy what you need, not what you want.

You can get yourself in a better financial position fairly quickly, but it takes commitment to keep it up. Stay strong!

Remind yourself every day that you're going to spend less than you earn. Reward yourself in non-financial ways for success.

Don't be resentful of those better off than you. Use them as inspiration & realize that if you keep on the path, you'll get there.

Interest costs money. Interest is an expense that you have to pay it on top of an item's cost. Think about it.

Take charge and read some basic books on finance. Once you're armed with knowledge, you won't be caught off guard again.

Suggest alternatives to expensive plans. Show that you want to spend time with others, even if you can't afford costly activities.

Emotional spending is when you buy things you don't need because you feel stressed out, bored, unhappy, etc.

A simple budget rule is 50-30-20. 50% of your budget is fixed expenses, 30% should be variable and 20% for savings and debts.

If you have high-interest debt, pay it off rather than focus on savings. It doesn't do any good to save money if you're losing it.