Setting up and maintaining a budget is often the first step to achieving many life goals. But a lot of people aren’t sure how to budget and where to start. That’s ok. It’s not as hard as it sounds to create one, although sticking to one can be a challenge. Here are a few tips for getting started.
Step 1. How to Budget—Crunch the numbers
The first step to creating a budget is getting an idea of where you’re at right now. To do this, calculate how much money you’re currently making. If you’re making a budget with someone else, have them do the same. Then decide what your monthly expenses are. Monthly expenses should include things like rent, utilities, and the internet.
Eventually, you might start to include things like gas or groceries, but you’re probably not sure how much you’re spending on that at the moment, so leave those out for now. Your progress should look something like the table below.
Step 2. How to Budget—Track your spending
There are quite a few apps that help you track your spending. You can also just use an excel sheet if you’re tech-savvy. If you don’t have a specific savings goal when starting out, then you might begin by simply trying to spend less than what you make. Or, if you know that saving is going to be a goal soon, try saving a small amount for the first month (If you do that, deduct the amount you want to save from your total monthly income). Also, consider breaking your budget into weekly amounts since tracking weekly targets is easier.
Keeping the spending amount on top is smart, so it’s easier to track even if your items stack up. A basic table for two weeks (you will mostly have four total) should look something like the one below. We’ve added a couple of Excel formulas to help you out.
Step 3. How to Budget—Keep it going
This is probably the most challenging step. You’ll have to determine what works best for you when it comes to tracking your spending every day. Once you get in the routine of it, though, it’s not as bad as it may seem. It also helps to set reasonable goals that you can achieve. When you meet a goal, you can feel proud of yourself—which could help you keep it up.
As you begin to have a stronger sense of what you spend on regular expenses like gas or groceries, you can add those to your regular expense column. This way, it’s easier to assess how much spending money you’ll have—and to decide how much of that money you want to save up.
Of course, all of this may seem like a lot of work. But the truth is—many people worry about how much they spend because they aren’t sure how much they have. This worrying can spoil the fun and stop you from treating yourself when you really deserve it. The key here is to find a good balance that allows you to enjoy going out while still saving up for a major purchase or life event, like buying your very first home.
“Ready to learn more about the homebuying process, or want to check out new homes for sale near you? Reach out to the helpful professionals at Centex Homes, who can help you find a home that fits your monthly budget”
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