The year 2020 may seem like it’s far away, and there’s no need to worry about budgeting for next year just yet, but planning sooner is better, especially if you’ve never budgeted before. There are 71 days left in the year, which means you have 71 full days to learn how to budget and start the new year on good financial footing, and perhaps a little wealthier.
Creating a budget is the key to taking control of your finances. Budgeting is a small guide book to help you save money, analyze what you’re spending too little or too much on, making financial choices easier, and building your wealth in the long run. Budgeting is a great way to help you get out of debt, pay bills on time, and save money.
Where do you begin?
There are two lists you’re going to want to create. One is an income list, and the other an expense list. These two lists will help you see how much money you make and how much of that money you spend.
To start an income list, be sure to include all sources of income, such as: full-time jobs, part-time jobs, child support, social security checks, and any other form of income. If you are budgeting with your spouse, make sure to include their income as well.
Next, create an expense list. An expense list should contain all of your monthly (or annual) expenses per month. A good way to start your expense list will be to list all your bills first, and then your luxury expenses at the very bottom, which include: going out, meals you eat out, clothes, etc. List your expenses from most important to least this way you can cross off any expense that is not too important.
Compare the two lists. A good tip to keep in mind is expenses should always be less or equal to your income.
These two lists guide you in the direction of realizing where you spend too much of your money. You can quickly start saving money by cutting out expenses that are not as necessary as paying your cable bill, especially if you have a vacation you want to book or something important you need to save up for.
Select a budget method based on your goal
Before selecting a budget method, think of what your goal is. Is your goal to save money, pay off a debt, or curb overspending?
Different Budgeting Methods
The Zero Method
The zero method is called zero for a reason- your monthly income minus your monthly expenses should be zero. After your calculations, if you have saved $500, use the money for either savings, emergency money, or for debt purposes.
The 60% Solution
This method was created by Richard Jenkins, former editor-in-chief of Msn Money. He wanted to make budgeting simple. It’s an easy method to remember – 60% of your income should be used for the essentials to live, such as a mortgage, food (groceries), car payments, insurance, all of your bills, etc. The rest of the 40% left should be broken up into four different categories, such as retirement, long term savings, short term savings, and fun money which should be only about 10%. This method is a great way to save money or with the money that is left over, to be used for emergencies or to pay off debt.
This method is very similar to the zero method, except you will be using cash and envelopes. For each spending expense, you will create an envelope with the written category. Based on your budget, you will put acquired money in the envelope and pull out the money you need to spend based on that category. For instance, if you are going food shopping, you will take your ‘food shopping envelope’ and use ONLY the cash that is in the envelope.
This method requires little to no tracking on all your expenses. It’s a simple method of breaking it down into three different categories. 50% for your essential expenses, 30% for elective expenses, and 20% for savings, debts, or emergency money.
Last but not least, you can always come up with your own budget method. Always keep in mind to set a budget for the goals you want to achieve with your finances. Once you become experienced in budgeting, you won’t believe how reliable it can be! Start 2020 fresh and with the mindset that by 2021 you won’t even need a budgeting plan anymore.