With adversity comes the potential for great triumph and one such tool perfect for financial success is producing and living within a budget.
If the thought of budgeting makes you flinch, it doesn’t have to be if you’re budgeting correctly. Proactive behavior with money management leads to financial independence, a reduction in stress and actually satisfying your needs on a deeper level. Without budgeting, you may dine out nightly, thus becoming jaded by the whole restaurant experience; but with budgeting you may only dine out occasionally, thus being able to truly enjoy the experience, as well as saving cash and calories. Anyone with the desire to manage their household expenses can make a budget. The three basic categories you need for your financial document are:
- Income: Including all money brought in from work, interest and other forms of revenue
- Fixed Expenses: Costs that are consistent such as mortgage payments, rent, utility, insurance, amount allocated to savings and similar expenses that do not fluctuate
- Non-Fixed Expenses: Costs that can change based on budgetary needs such as groceries, entertainment and other discretionary expenses
Simple lay out all the information on a spreadsheet on a month to month basis and then balance your budget to make sure your income justifies your expenses. If not, tweak your non-fixed expenses accordingly and perhaps consider ways to reduce your fixed expenses. With your budget in place, it will be simple to use your budget as a guideline for your spending habits. Some way to live more richly when on a budget is to:
- Maximize your Food Budget: Eating more beans and less meat, clipping coupons, cooking more often and shopping for generic brands can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of the year
- Avoid Shopping Temptation: Browsing the web and taking a stroll through the local shopping mall can be too much for some confessed shopaholics to handle, try free online games, IMing with a friend or taking a walk outside as fun and free distractions
- Become Fashionable for Less: Both men and women can benefit from having basic sewing skills to mend or alter clothing, discount shopping at consignment shops and even swapping clothing you are bored with for new items from their friends
By taking baby steps to curb your spending and following the budget, you will notice that you do end up with more money for discretionary use. After a couple of weeks of home cooking, you can really enjoy that dinner out at your favorite neighborhood joint. By banking all that extra cash, you may find you have truly earned that next mall trip and buy that new tech gadget or handbag. Budgeting provides you with control over your money and who would not want that. But remember, you cannot just budget without having banking account such as a savings account or a checking account to manage your finances. The sooner you learn to be smart with your money, the more independent you’ll be come. Wouldn’t it be great to have financial success in your 20’s?