Lots of people have a difficult time with their finances. Maybe you have had unexpected medical expenses, or school debt, or maybe you never really learned how to budget. Planning and sticking to a monthly budget is integral to your financial success. A budget helps you visualize your monthly income and expenses, and keeping within your budget builds your confidence as you manage your resources wisely. It may seem daunting to get started, but once you get going, you can really see improvement in controlling your spending and reducing debt. To increase your budgeting skills, start tracking your spending, planning your grocery expenses, and using a cash system.
Track Your Spending
To begin, you need to get a clear picture of how much money you have coming in and going out each month. List all the necessary expenses such as for housing, utilities in your city, car insurance in Belmont or wherever you are located, health insurance, transportation, and food. A helpful (and free) tool to get you started is Dave Ramsey’s online budgeting program. Perhaps you could spend a month tracking your spending. Keep every receipt for every purchase through the entire month, and list all expenditures in one document. Then, see where you can start cutting expenses in order to put more towards paying off debt and building up a good savings.
Plan Your Grocery Trips
It is so easy to overspend on groceries, but with some additional planning, you can definitely save money on your food spending. Plan your meals and menus around the items you can get on sale at the local grocery store, then do all your shopping for the week in one trip. Each time you go to the store, you risk unnecessary or incidental purchases, but with only one weekly trip you will be better able to stick to your budget. It may help you to shop with cash so you are limited to a precise, pre-determined amount for your groceries.
Use a Cash System
Paying with cash instead of credit is a great way to limit your spending. When you use a cash system, you are daring to be deliberate in all your spending choices. You are taking control instead of letting impulses or whims control you. The cash envelope system suggests you set aside exact amounts of cash in specific envelopes to use for gas, groceries, cleaning supplies, even restaurant money. However you have decided to allocate your monthly income, the cash system can make it work for you in a tangible way to increase accountability.
Find Frugal Entertainment
Budgeting is a step toward independence in your personal finances. It might start to feel restrictive though, as you put all your efforts into reducing debt or saving for a house. Essential to any good long-term financial habits is finding frugal means of entertainment. So while you’re lowering your grocery and car insurance in Belmont expenses, find fun free or inexpensive activities you can do as a family, like picnicking and hiking. Living on a budget does not have to be joyless. With consistent effort and some fun sprinkled in, you can have the satisfaction of living within your means.