If You Need a Budget Follow These 5 Easy Tips to Get Started

According the American Psychological Association‘s survey, which measures causes of stress, money consistently lands near the top with 61% of Americans reporting money-related anxiety. The biggest factor in this stress is overspending. We worry when total expenses (amount spent monthly) exceed total income (amount made monthly), causing mounting debt.

Create a monthly budget to ensure you do not spend more than you make in a month, forcing you to take on additional debt. 

Budgeting for Happiness

Although making a budget can seem like a daunting task, learning how to make a monthly budget and use it will save you future financial worries by helping you plan monthly expenses, only spend what you can afford, and by helping you save up for infrequent, unexpected, or large expenses.

The peace of mind which budgeting brings, always knowing how much money you have to spend and whether or not your bills have been paid, is surprisingly powerful.

If you need a budget, to get started, use these five tips: 

  1. Track Expenses
    Keep track of all your expenses for a month (you can save receipts in a shoebox) or do your best to come up with a ballpark estimate of how much you spend and what you spend it on. Continue recording your expenses and tracking every dime you spend (even on a tin of mints) each month after starting your budget.

  2. Categorize Expenses
    Dividing your monthly expenses into categories allows you to track your spending. Categorizing expenses will also help you save money for anticipated expenses, such as an annual insurance policy premium.

Your budget will be unique to your lifestyle and spending habits, but most budgets include categories such as utilities, mortgage or rent, taxes and insurance, medical, travel and fuel, clothes, food, and entertainment. The amount you allot for each category in your budget can be adjusted each month, as you get a better feel for your spending and saving habits. 

  1. Understand Your Income
    Monthly income is all money you make including salary, tips, interest, and investment income. Determine a total and create your budget based on this amount. Your total income minus the amounts you plan to spend or put into savings for each expense category (total expenses) should equal zero, ensuring every cent is accounted for. 

  2. You Need a Budget that Anticipates Emergencies or Large Expenses
    Do not forget to include infrequent expenses, an emergency savings fund, and maybe even a future vacation fund. 

  3. Set Calendar Alerts – Set calendar alerts for days when you need to pay bills to ensure you never miss a payment and avoid adding late fees to your monthly expenses. 

Create a Budget with Advice from an Experienced Professional

At Member Plus, we are here to help you along your financial path. If you need a budget and have more questions or would like more information about options for handling emergency expenses, contact us today!

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