Once you’ve created your budget, it’s important to stick to it. Here are 10 tips for creating a budget and staying on it ... without losing your sanity.
Create a budget
Dave Ramsey has some easy forms to get you started: http://www.daveramsey.com/tools/budget-forms
- Prioritize your spending
Decide what is important enough to be worth your hard earned money and what can wait, or be cut entirely.
- Keep receipts
Save your receipts, and write down the places you spend money. You’ll be less likely to overspend if you realize how much money has actually gone through your hands.
- Balance your checkbook
If you balance your bank statement monthly, you can make sure your ledger stays on track.
- Use cash or a debit card
Avoid the high interest rates of credit cards and always spend within your means.
- Analyze your spending & cut bad habits
Review your budget and all of your receipts. Can you find expenses that can be cut? Do you really need Starbucks? Make your coffee at home. Pack a lunch, instead of going out to eat. Eat dinner in more often and watch your savings increase!
- Share responsibility
If the entire family shares the responsibility for the budget, everyone can cut back a little and make a big difference. Use this as a teaching experience for your younger children. Teach them the importance of saving, sharing and spending.
- Pay down debt
If you only pay the minimums on all your credit cards or loans, you’ll be paying a lot more in interest than you may realize. Focus on paying down your smallest debt first, and keep working at it until each debt is paid off.
- Be flexible & save for an emergency
Life is unpredictable, and things happen that are out of our control. Determine an amount in your budget that you can afford to save each month. Have it direct deposited into a Macatawa Bank savings account. Try and set a goal of $500-$1,000 for emergencies (i.e. the car breaks down, medical bills, unpredictable house repairs) because no matter how well things are going, bad things will happen from time to time. A solid emergency fund is perhaps one of the most important tools in developing and sustaining financial security.
- Update your budget regularly
Budgeting will get easier the longer you stick with it, and you will reap the rewards in years to come. Above all, remember that budgeting is worth the effort. Keeping on budget can make your entire life run more smoothly.