Conversations about finance and financial stability are some common topics people bring up, especially youngsters and millennials. You can often hear them discussing investments, salaries, side hustles, mutual funds, and ways to generate income from many other sources. This is because people typically deal with different kinds of expenses, including student loans and other debts.
A question many ask is, “How do you manage expenses?” For answers, they search every possible source. Most people ask search engines the question, "What budgeting tips would help me stay on track financially?"
But before we dive into this question, it is essential to understand the meaning of the term budget.
What does the term Budget mean?
Simply put, it systematically evaluates your earnings and expenditures for a specific period to ensure you are financially comfortable. It also verifies whether you're at ease if a considerably large and unplanned expense arises.
Generally, governments, business enterprises, small business owners, and individuals prepare budgets to assess their monetary requirements. Thus, a budget is a financial plan that allows you to take charge of your money matters.
How to draw up a Budget Plan?
To provide an apt answer to this question, "What budgeting tips would help me stay on track financially?', you first need to understand the process of creating a budget.
You can initiate the process by computing some basic parameters listed below.
- Net Income: First and foremost, take note of all your earnings from different sources, like a full-time job, side hustles, bank interests, and investments. Next, list all the tax payments (even approximate figures would do) you need to incur. Deduct this amount from your earnings to arrive at your net income.
- Expenditures: A comprehensive and honest assessment and compilation of expenses is crucial while chalking out the budget plan. A further subdivision of spending into essential and non-essential categories helps.
- Drawing a Budget Plan: You reach your savings once you subtract the expenditures from your net income. Based on this evaluation, conclude whether the amount is enough for your short-term and long-term goals or if some steps must be taken, particularly for long-term goals. Lastly, draft a monthly budget plan.
You need to repeat the process till you prepare a consolidated budget you can use for a considerable period. The budgeting tips in the next section will help you focus on controlling and tracking your expenses. (2)
4 Budgeting tips to align your expenses right
Ensuring financial stability and enabling wealth accumulation while maintaining savings are crucial to people, especially millennials and youngsters. Hence, changing spending habits to accommodate these needs is vital. Some tips to help you stay on track with your finances are:
Start with the right mindset: A determined and positive attitude is the key to succeeding in your plans. The same theory holds good while following a budget. You must focus on:
- You must be motivated enough to adhere to the budget you finalize.
- Your budget must give you enough room to spend money on the things you need.
- Ensure proper utilization of available funds.
Plan your Goals: As explained earlier, a budget plan is a tool to save money for the future. Thus, planning your long-term goals is necessary. For example, if you're planning to purchase a home or start a business, your current plan must be per your ultimate aim.
Budgeting Proves Time-consuming: This means you might take a few months of continuous re-evaluation and alterations to reach the perfect figures in your budget.
Use Appropriate Budgeting Systems: An important budgeting tip is to include an appropriate budgeting system in your plan, as it simplifies planning and divides the available sum suitably. Some of the tested methods are:
1. Zero-Based budget
The basis of drawing up a zero-budget plan is when you equate your monthly income and expenditure,
i.e., Income - Expenditure = Zero
In zero-based budgeting, there are no savings at the end of the month. Accuracy is the key to a successful plan, as every penny is budgeted. An overdraft in one area might make the whole plan go haywire.
2. Pay yourself first
In this method, you set aside some of your earnings for unavoidable expenses, such as daily expenses, dues, and debts. You can then use the remainder of your income at your discretion. The positive side of the pay-yourself-first method is that your expenditure gets prioritized.
3. Envelope system budget
This is a budgeting system for people who believe in cash, not credit cards. Following the footsteps of the zero budgeting scheme, you must segregate all your expenses. Use the available money only for specific expenses. Example: If you earn $1000, assign $200 for groceries, $100 for medicines, and so on.
4. 50/30/20 budget
As the plan suggests, in a 50/30/20 Budget, the available amount can be divided as shown below:
- 50% is designated to essential expenditure.
- 30% is assigned to impulse purchases.
- 20% is transferred to savings and debt repayment.
Although this plan is apt for first-time budgeters, regular revision is mandatory for those with relatively huge long-term goals.
Some other steps you can take to follow your budget are:
- Automate Payments: Using automated tools or instructing the banks to pay for recurring expenditures avoids interest on late payments and prevents debt accumulation
- Keep a tab on your Checking Account: Monitoring your savings account allows you to track the account balance after expenses. It can help you avoid extra spending
- An Emergency Fund: Adverse situations in life are often unpredictable. Hence, maintaining an emergency fund is useful when you set out to manage your finances. In a practical budget plan, you must set aside a percentage of your earnings for unforeseen contingencies
- Keep your Debts under control: A vital aspect of your plan is timely debt payments. An increase in debt usually reduces an individual’s access to credit or loans in the long run, which may interrupt your long-term goals. Although a debt management service provider can assist you, the exercise will cause a dent in your finances
- Professional Help: If, due to pressing issues, you cannot manage your finances, seeking professional help from a financial expert is recommended
- Don't Compare: Avoid comparing and competing with your peers and family members. Instead, focus on your earnings and the impact it has on your financial goals. This is advisable since dissatisfaction may hamper planning
While the sections above address the question, What budgeting tips would help me stay on track financially, certain myths surround this concept. These misconceptions may deter and prevent them from taking corrective actions. (3), (5)
What are the misconceptions regarding budgets?
One of the most important determinants of budgeting compliance is the quantum of cash flows a person records over a period. If you are unaware of how much money is coming into your bank account and how fast it gets exhausted, you may inadvertently put yourself in a stressful financial situation. A deliberate estimation pertaining to cash flows is required to handle the budgeting process well.
At times, people do not consider budgeting important. This is due to the following reasons:
- Budgeting wastes time: Budgeting may be time-consuming, but it helps increase wealth. Per your monthly inflows, whether you're on a tight budget or have some savings to invest, a reasonable budget plan can enable planned spending
- Calculations are complex: Some of us may not want to deal with numbers, but with the advent of many budgeting software and tools, you need not worry. You must provide details and let the software do the rest of the work
- Thoughts like “I lead a secure life”: You might be in a cushioned workspace, but that does not guarantee security. Even if you have a high-paying job, you're not irreplaceable. Thus, planning and budgeting your finances maintains its relevance and importance
- An irregular income does not need budgeting: People beginning their careers, freelancers, or those undergoing a career transition may believe they do not need budgeting. This is because their inflows are uncertain and may vary every month. However, budgeting helps everyone
As you work through your finances and make budgeting a regular practice, you will notice significant changes in your life.
What are the key benefits of budgeting?
The benefits of budgeting can bring security and a worry-free atmosphere. Some key positives are:
- It controls your expenditure
- It ensures a reduction in extra payment due to delays
- It prevents unnecessary expenditure
- It can curb your debts to a considerable extent
- A good plan can help you achieve your long-term goals
It is important to remember that working around a budget is similar to cultivating a good habit. Just as regular exercise leads to good physical health, financial stability depends on good monetary habits. Hence, budgeting must be treated as an ongoing process. Consolidating or designing a plan requires an accurate and honest assessment of your finances. But this will help you stay on track and make it easier to reach your financial goals. This article is primarily for those always wondering, "What budgeting tips would help me stay on track financially?"
Bright Money offers a stream of financial and investment plans that help you use your money effectively. Their credit-building systems help you prepare effective budgets, offer debt management techniques, and increase your wealth through several financial planning tools.
Q1: What happens if you don't have a proper budget?
You will risk spending more than you can afford, leading to an increase in the debt numbers. You may even damage your credit scores.
Q2: What are the simple steps to cut costs and follow your budget plan?
Cut your expenses by altering your daily activities. For example, reducing the number of takeaways by preparing meals at home, sharing transportation, debt consolidation, and saving on utility bills can help you reduce costs.
Q3: What is a static budget?
A static budget refers to the section that considers fixed expenses in a given month. Such expenses are credit card bills, tuition fees, groceries, etc.
Q4: What is an emergency fund?
An emergency fund is part of the budget that caters to unforeseen circumstances like late payments, medical expenses due to hospitalization or surgery, or other unplanned expenses.