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Budget Tips for Beginners
If you are struggling with debt, there are many different solutions you can look into. Sometimes the only answer left to you is bankruptcy, but often your debt isn’t as unmanageable as you fear. Before going through a formal solution which can put a black mark on your credit card, consider whether a simple budget could help you manage your debt and pay it off in a timely manner.
We hear it time and again from financial experts, but starting a budget can be daunting and hard to stick to. Here are some tips to get you started on the path to a successful budget.
- Set goals. A specific long-term goal, like paying off your debt, or saving enough for a holiday to Mexico will help you get through the sacrifices you have to make to get your budget to work. Short-term goals are also helpful to keep you on track on a day to day basis. For example, if I come in under on my entertainment budget this month I am going to buy that skirt I saw in the mall.
- Work with real numbers. Before you even sit down to create a budget, spend some time tracking where you usually spend your money. What have you spent on gas in the last two months? How much do you spend on groceries etc? It is also important to know what you actually take home in wages. A guess won’t work because $100 can make all the difference between a budget that works and one that doesn't.
- Be realistic. Just like a diet if you try too much too fast you won’t stick to it. If you want to cut your entertainment budget drastically try and do it in small increments over time. Make cuts where you can, but don’ t set yourself up to fail.
- Use available resources. Budgeting is all about keeping track of where your money is going. There are plenty of resources available online to help you track your budget, minimise your grocery spending, and find deals, coupons and free entertainment. Most of them you can download on your phone so you can check how you are doing at any time. Budgeting is hard at first so anything that helps should be embraced. Our Groceries and Mint are great resources to check out.
- If it doesn't work, change it. A new budget is a work in progress. Sometimes you’ll find that you were too strict with yourself, or you forgot to factor in key information like irregular bills. Don’t be afraid to change your budget until you have one that works for you. There is no point trying to stick with a budget that wasn't the right fit for you from the get go.