I bet if we asked you, you’d say you were on a budget. Everyone in the video below did. But are you really? Do you know where every dollar of your paycheck is going? You should. The majority of people interviewed in our video said a lot of their money goes toward groceries and eating out – are those expenditures worked into your budget?
About half of American adults admit that they don’t use a budget. How can this be? It is virtually impossible to be in control of your finances, work toward any financial goals or become debt-free if you are not aware of what money you have coming in and what amount needs to be going out to pay bills. Not to mention setting a portion aside for an emergency fund, savings and retirement. Seem overwhelming? Use these tips to create and use a budget:
1: Determine your financial goals.
Decide what you would like to achieve in the short term and in the long term, and be specific. This can include anything from paying off credit card debt within the next six months to buying a house in the next two years.
2: Create a plan of action.
Now that you know what you are working toward and when you’d like to meet those goals, implement a plan to make it happen. Calculate your monthly income, and keep track of your expenses for a month. Take into account any income after taxes, your bills, monthly memberships, gas, groceries and anything else you spend money on.
3: Cut the fat.
Once you’ve written down everything you spend money on for a month, find out where you can cut corners and spend less. You may love shopping at Whole Foods, but can you really afford those prices every week? Do you have to get the latest Apple product right now? Weigh these wants against your needs and the financial goals you’ve set for yourself. Time to face some hard truths, and cut the fat.
4: Revise your budget.
Now that you’ve hopefully reduced your spending, adjust your budget accordingly. Use this new budget for a month or two and monitor how closely you are sticking to it. This will give you a more realistic idea of what you’re spending and what you are able to redistribute toward meeting your goals.
You’ve taken the time to create goals, make a budget and adjust your spending, so stick to it! It will be well worth it, and your future self will thank you.
Always on the go and need some help staying on budget? Here are a few free phone apps that can help:
Pageonce – This app gives you an overview of all your bills, bank account balances and credit cards. You can even set reminders to alert you when a bill is due, when money is withdrawn or deposited to your account, or when there is suspicious activity on your account.
ShoeBoxed – Do you hold onto crumpled receipts trying to track your purchases? With this app, you can take a photo of the receipt and ShoeBoxed will automatically enter the date, total, payment type, store and category of the purchase. You can even create and send expense reports right from your phone.
Simple – Prefer to have your information all in one place? Simple serves as a replacement for your bank. Simple is meant to be smarter than a bank, with tools that help customers budget intelligently and save more, all while categorizing and organizing your spending.
Q1: Are you on a budget?
Person #1: Yes.
Person #2: Not really.
Person #3: Um, I am on a budget.
Person #4: We, we know where every dollar is going and where it’s coming from. You have to.
Person #5: Yeah.
Person #6: Yes.
Person #7: I am.
Person #8: Uh, yes I am on a budget.
Person #9: Yes.
Person #10: Uh yes, yeah.
Person #11: Yes.
Person #12: Budget, um, yeah I guess you can say that.
Person #13: Yes, I am currently on a budget.
Person #14: Yes budget in our house is if you don’t have cash, can’t pay for it with cash, you can’t afford
it. Just don’t spend it.
Q2: What do you spend most of your money on?
Person #1: I spend most of my money, um, on food. I eat a lot and I have a high calorie diet.
Person #2: Paying for school. Actually now I’m going to go pay for school. And also money on living expenses.
Person #3: Car stuff.
Person #4: Food and rent.
Person #5: Probably eating out and just going out.
Person #6: Ah, normally eating out and gas.
Person #7: Most of my money would go to I would say bills and building my business.
Person #8: We spend money on clothing, food.
Person #9: Um a lot of it goes to rent and groceries. Sometimes school things.
Person #10: I take that back we spend money on schools. Kids go to private school and universities and so far they have not allowed to get there free.
Person #11: Spend most of my money on restaurants and going to the Magic game.
Person #12: Most of it goes toward rent.
Person #13: On food.
Person #14: Food.
Person #15: Food, uh stuff like that.
Person #16: Well generally the household bills, insurance.