canstockphoto9157930According to the 2014 Financial Literacy Survey, conducted by the Harris Poll, 61% of Americans don’t use a budget. If you’re in this category, you will be glad to discover that creating a budget is a lot easier than you think. It’s also a good way to take more control over your finances.

Creating a budget has many benefits. You can make solid plans to achieve your financial goals and live the best life that you deserve by adopting a budget. A good budget is easy to follow, create sound financial habits and it will also leave a bit of room to have fun instead of feeling deprived of the things you enjoy.

 

Follow these simple steps to begin your journey of creating a budget that best works for you:

 

1. Identify your source of income. You’ll need to know the amount of your total income before you make a decision on how to save and spend your money. Get started by creating a list of all of your income and calculate the total amount. Also include how frequently you’re paid off.

The most common sources of income include the paycheck from your regular job and monthly alimony payments. If you’re making additional income such as a yard sale or a side hustle such as dog walking, make sure this information is also included.

 

2. List and categorize all of the expenses. When you’re creating your budget, make sure to carefully categorize all of your expenses. Consider what portion of your income you’re going to use for various types of expenses.

Many budgeting templates classify expenses in two categories: fixed and variable. Fixed expenses are those that regularly occur for a set amount. Insurance premiums, monthly rent/mortgage costs and car payments are examples of different types of fixed payments. Variable expenses take place at different times or for irregular amounts of money. It is really important for you to estimate the amount and timing of your variable expenses.

If you’re having difficulty setting aside a portion of your money for emergency savings or  achieving other financial goals, categorizing your expenses in terms of wants and needs can be very helpful.

A great way to save more of your money is to consider whether each expense is a true want or need. For instance, do you really need to have cable services, a cell phone or perhaps a pedicure? After you  make a decision on things that you can do without, reduce spending on the items that are only “wants.” This is a bit tougher than it sounds. For example, most of us know that food is a necessity in our everyday lives, but the type of food that we choose to purchase may reflect a want compared to an actual need.

 

3. Leave room in your budget to enjoy a lot of freedom. Staying on top of your budget will help you achieve a balance between your spending and saving habits. It also allows you to do things that you enjoy while taking better control of your finances.

 

4. Boost your income. Just as you are tracking your expenses and setting short and long-term financial goals, look for ways to make some extra money.

 

Getting a second job, using your skills to start a home-based business or selling items around the house that you’re no longer using are excellent ways to increase your income.

 

 5. Use budgeting tools. Writing out a budget can be a tedious or boring task. Using budgeting software programs can make it easier for you to automatically record and track all of your financial transactions.

 

6. Keep a close watch your budget. It’s common to experience changes in your finances over time. For this reason, it’s really important for you to review and adjust your budget on a regular basis.

Whenever you create a budget, keep in mind that the price of food, gas and household bills are constantly fluctuating and there may be changes in your financial goals such as buying a new home or car.
Creating a budget is very important to stay on top of your finances. Use these tips to build a realistic budget that will help you to reach your financial goals while enjoying your the things you love to do guilt free.