10 Ways of Planning and Controlling Your Income and Expenditures
Budgeting is important for every household. It’s not just for those who are barely scraping by and must make sure there’s enough money to pay the bills each month. Even if you don’t have to watch every penny, it’s important to know where your money is going and make sure you’re putting enough in savings for retirement, emergencies and other needs.
In theory, budgeting is pretty simple. But in practice, it can get complicated. Here are ten tips that can help you gain control of your money and pay off your debts.
1. For the first month of your budgeting, come up with your best estimate of spending. Breaking it down into categories such as entertainment, transportation, groceries and such will help. These expenses are more difficult to predict than fixed expenses such as mortgage and insurance payments, so use any receipts you have and estimate the rest.
2. Keep close track of expenses. The most accurate way to do so is to keep all of your receipts. But if you use a debit card for most of your spending, your bank records may suffice.
3. When the month is over, add up your expenses and see how close your estimates were. This will help you get a more realistic idea of your spending habits. Revise your budget with the new numbers, and see where you can cut back.
4. Don’t overlook the little things. Small amounts of money add up quickly if you spend them every day or several times a week. And these small expenses are often the easiest to live without, so eliminating a few of them can make a big difference in your budget without leaving you feeling deprived.
5. Give everyone an allowance. Each family member should get a reasonable amount of money to spend on everyday needs each week. For younger children, a parent can manage the money. By allocating a certain amount to each person, you can encourage frugality while keeping expenses manageable.
6. Set aside a certain amount for savings each time you get paid, and make sure it goes into savings before any discretionary spending takes place. This way you won’t have to worry about coming up short of your savings goal at the end of the month.
7. Use your raises wisely. Resist the urge to increase your spending just because you have more money coming in each month. Instead, consider putting the amount of the raise into savings or use it to increase your debt payments. You won’t miss it, and this will help you improve your financial future.
8. Avoid overspending when you get a bonus or tax refund. Indulge a little if you feel the need, but try to put most of the extra money toward more noble causes (such as paying off your credit card debt).
9. Become a frugal shopper. Clip coupons and check flyers for sales at your local stores. You can save a great deal on groceries, clothing, hardware and other items this way.
10. When possible, do things yourself instead of paying someone else to do them. We all have unique talents, and putting them to use can save us money. Maybe you can do your own repairs around the house, change the oil in your car, or sew clothes for the family instead of buying them off the rack. All of these things can save you money and leave more in the budget for other expenses and savings.