By Elaine McPartland
Making a budget may seem like a hassle and a waste of time but that’s far from what it is. In fact, creating a well organized budget is the key to gaining control of your finances. Once you have the tools you need to monitor your expenses, you’ll be better able to manage your every day expenditures and savings. Check out these tips for quick starting your budget:
Gather Important Documents
Sometimes that hardest part is starting. Don’t be embarrassed if up until this point you haven’t been able to get a grip of your finances because most adults haven’t either. The first thing you want do is gather all your statements, bills, and loan documents in a cohesive grouping. My recommendation is to organize these papers in order of relevant importance. Housing related documents come first followed by utilities, credit card bills, and other loans. If you’ve made it to this point, you’re in good shape.
Next step is to create a spreadsheet listing all fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses are those which stay constant from month to month. Monthly rent and car payments are examples of fixed expenses. Variable expenses are those which fluctuate depending on external circumstances. Take gas prices for example. There’s no way to control the price of gas and therefore, the amount you spend on gas per month is somewhat out of your control.
Crunch Some Numbers
After listing those two types of expenses, it’s time to crunch some numbers. Subtract the sum of your monthly expenses from the overall amount you bring in. The number you come up with right off the bat will give you some insight into your spending. If you spend more per month that you make, the answer will be negative. Here’s a useful tool to help you calculate all your other expenses.
Monitor Due Dates
I can’t emphasize enough how important due dates are. Pick a system to classify bill dates and to schedule other important payments. There are plenty of electronic programs created for this very purpose. If you’re old school and prefer to have them listed on a calendar, then do that! The way you carry out the process isn’t as important as the end result—getting bills paid on time. For people who are technologically savvy, Mint is a great app for personal budgeting. It has user friendly features which are great for budgeter of all ages. There’s also a specific function to include any debt which you may have accumulated. The program will make it easy to keep track of growing interest payments and remind you of important dates.
When these alternatives are not enough and you still find yourself struggling to handle the bills, it may be time to seek a debt and financial management service. Consolidated Credit has a knowledgeable staff on hand who can assist you in every step of the process. They’ll even assign you a personal credit counselor to go over the amounts you owe, and map out a strategy.
Stick To Those Goals
At first, managing a budget may seem like a lot of work to take on but in time, the process will become easier. One way I gained control of my finances was to have daily reminders of my progress and goals. Staying optimistic in the face of resistance is a sure fire way to accomplish any task. And if all that fails, you can always seek help from a professional organization. Again, there’s no shame in asking for assistance. Better safe than sorry—this applies to real world scenarios including your finances.