Start the New Year right with a BUDGET!! Not again Karen.
Deal with it.
It is a well-known fact that to have control over your finances you should have a budget. I read an article that said 60% of Americans don’t have a budget. YIKES!!!
The point of this post is to provide you with:
- Quick tips and tricks to budgeting.
- Hidden expenses we often forget.
- A budget template to get you started!!
Quick Tips & Tricks:
- Tithe & save first. When you know the first payment goes to YOU and your priorities, that is something to celebrate. Often Americans save last IF there is anything left. And that is a BIG IF. I think I’ve mentioned this statistic before, according to THIS article on CNBC.com, more than half of Americans (57 percent) have less than $1,000 in savings. Maybe the same 60% that don’t have a budget? A coincidence?
- Make a “savings” line item at the top of your budget. Even if you can only put a minimal amount there to start, it’s a start! Once you begin you can add 1% every month until you get up to where you want to be.
- Look at what you spend. This seems like a no brainer, but most of us don’t do it. This is where the facts come to light. Often people are buying things they can’t afford with money they don’t have. The most common types of debt are mortgage, auto loans, personal loans and student loans. However, that is not the only place where our money goes. We spend money on eating out, entertainment and clothing just to name a few. It is really important to know what you can afford and stay below that level. Living below your means can offer you great peace should life throw you a curve ball.
How do I figure out what I spend and where? Take a look at your last 3 months of bank statements and/or credit card bills. See any themes? Highlight categories of spend. Take a yellow highlighter and mark all the restaurants, take a green highlight and mark all the coffee shops, take a blue highlighter and mark all the clothing stores. Better yet, see if your bank offers the option online to run a report of where your money is going. It will often be categorized for you.
Identify the areas that you are spending. The most important part of this exercise is knowing what you are spending and making informed decisions if that is really where you WANT to be spending your money.
4. Have an Emergency fund. It is like insurance, you hope you won’t need it, but your darn glad you have it if you do. An Emergency Fund (see post here specifically on the emergency fund) is a way of protecting yourself from a flat tire being inconvenient to turning into a nightmare. When you have some padding in the bank, issues that were a big deal are no longer a big deal.
5. AUTOMATE. But be careful. Almost everything these days can be automated. This can make making payments on time easy and super helpful when it comes to avoiding late payment fees. However, I do caution you to make sure you still look at your payments. If your water bill went from $50 to $150, there may be a problem. Schedule time every month to look over your bills and assure everything looks right.
Hidden Expenses we often forget:
These are those little “gotcha’s” that can put a damper on even the best budget. Don’t let them catch you!!
- Backyard BBQ
- Community parties
- Church potluck
- Pool parties
- Car maintenance
- Car & Home owners Insurance
- Pest control
- Quarterly or annual visits can add up if you don’t account for them
- If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) and are contributing to it every year, this should be covered
- Pharmacy costs – if medications are not counted in your grocery budget, this can add up depending on what your family uses over the course of the year.
- Household supplies (if this in not part of your grocery budget)
- Toilet paper
- Soap/ shampoo
- Cleaning supplies
- Holidays/ birthdays
- Food/ beverages
- Subscriptions and membership fees or dues
- Amazon Prime
- Gym memberships
- Magazine subscriptions (does anyone do that anymore?)
- Online membership clubs
Lastly, I have created a budget for you. It includes all the above gotcha’s to help with those hidden expenses. I hope that between the tips and tricks and the insight in to all the things we pay for these days, this was useful for you.
Like everything in life, preparation is key.
Thomas Edison said, “Good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.”
You’ve got this!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Karen & Bill