Personal Budget Guide For Financial Success
A personal budget is a finance plan that allocates future personal income towards expenses, savings and debt repayment. Past spending and personal debt are considered when creating a personal budget. There are several methods and tools available for creating, using and adjusting a personal budget. For example, jobs are an income source, while bills and rent payments are expenses.
Personal financial management is a subject that is not taught in many schools, but is something that nearly everyone has to deal with in their lives later on. Here are some statistics: Some 58% of Americans do not have a retirement plan in place for how they’ll manage their finances when they get old. While people generally believe they’ll need about $300,000 to support themselves in retirement, the average American has only about $25,000 saved at the time of retirement.
Average household credit card debt among Americans now stands at a distressing $15,204. If these facts are alarming to you, and you want to reverse the trend, read on for specific, targeted advice geared towards giving you a better future.
One of the most powerful resolutions you can make is to simplify your personal finances. Paring down your accounts, files, bills, systems, and so on, can make it easier for you to stay on top of your money. Having too many things in too many places adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to your financial life. There’s a Zen-like awareness that comes from being organized and in touch with every aspect of your money.
tips to simplify personal financesThe goal is to create a system to manage your money that allows you to stay informed and to meet deadlines in as little time as possible. If managing your money takes too long or is difficult, you’re likely to put it off or to spend your time doing something that you enjoy more.
Below are Tips To Manage Your Personal Budget
1. For one month, keep track of all your expenses
You don’t have to limit yourself; just get an idea of what you spend money on during any given month. Save all your receipts, make note of how much cash you need versus how much you expense to credit cards, and figure out how much money you have left over when the calendar turns.
2. After the first month, take stock of what you spent
Don’t write down what you wished you had spent; write down what you actually spent. Categorize your purchases in a way that makes sense to you. A simple list of your monthly expenses might look something like this:
- Monthly income: $3,000
► Rent/mortgage: $800
► Household bills (utilities/electric/cable): $125
► Groceries: $300
► Dining out: $125
► Gas: $100
► Emergency medical: $200
► Discretionary: $400
► Savings: $900
3. Now, write down your actual budget
Based on the month of actual expenses — and your own knowledge of your spending history — budget out how much of your income you want to allocate to each category every month. If desired, use an online budgeting platform, such as Mint.com, to help you manage your budget.
In your budget, make separate columns for projected budget and actual budget. Your projected budget is how much you intend to spend on a category; this should stay the same from month to month and be calculated at the beginning of the month. Your actual budget is how much you end up spending; it fluctuates from month to month and is calculated at the end of the month.
Many people leave significant room in their budget for savings. You don’t have to structure your budget to include savings, but it’s generally thought of as a smart idea. Professional financial planners advise their clients to set aside at least 10% to 15% of their total earnings for savings.
4. Be honest with yourself about your budget
It’s your money — there’s really no sense in lying to yourself about how much you’re going to spend when making a budget. The only person you hurt when doing this is yourself. On the other hand, if you have no idea how you spend your money, your budget may take a few months to solidify. In the meantime, don’t put down any hard numbers until you can get realistic with yourself.
For example, if you have $500 dollars allocated to savings every month, but know that it’ll consistently be a stretch in order to meet that goal, don’t put it down. Put down a number that’s realistic. Then, go back to your budget and see if you can’t tweak it to loosen up cash somewhere else, and then funnel it into your savings.
5. Keep track of your budget over time
The hard part of a budget is that your expenses may change from month to month. The great part of a budget is that you’ll have kept track of those changes, giving you an accurate idea of where your money went during the year.
Setting a budget will open your eyes to how much money you spend, if they haven’t been opened already. Many people, after setting a budget, realize that they spend money on pretty petty things. This knowledge allows them to adjust their spending habits and put the money towards more meaningful areas.
Plan for the unexpected. Setting a budget will also teach you that you never know when you’ll have to pay for something unexpected — but that the unexpected will come to be expected. You obviously don’t plan on your car breaking down, or your child needing medical attention, but it pays to expect these contingencies to happen, and to be prepared for them financially when they come.