Managing your money can be overwhelming when you feel like you’re not making enough. Even the most responsible people with well-established jobs run into money issues. From increasing student loans to mortgage payments to overdrawn credit cards, there are many factors that go into your declining bank statement each month.
Budgeting your monthly spending can be one of the hardest habits to establish and maintain. But it’s essential to making sure you build a strong financial future.
So how can you make sure you don’t run out of money each month? By following a few simple ideas, you’ll stay within your budget and avoid unwanted financial worry.
Take Inventory of Your Expenses
The first step in managing your money is to find out where it’s all going. Take a moment to write out all of your expenses, and be sure to include hidden expenses that are spread out over the year. This can include annual subscriptions, vacation travel, holiday gifts and medical expenses.
Divide these out over 12 months so that you know the actual cost of your current standard of living. Next, create categories for your spending so you can have some perspective on what items are necessary and which ones are non-essentials.
From this information, you can create two separate lists. Essential items should be kept together, as you’ll likely have very little flexibility with these, while non-essentials can be eliminated or reduced. Things like daily coffee runs or trips to the salon can be cut for DIY home alternatives.
This is usually the hardest part of budgeting. But it can be the most valuable. By going through your expense inventory, you can remove all of your unnecessary expenses. You may not even realize how much some of these were costing you over time.
But elimination isn’t the only option. Consider using cost-saving methods such as discounts and coupons. These can be used for dining out and entertainment if you find the right resources.
Most major chain stores and restaurants offer weekly digital coupons if you sign up for their mailing lists. It’s a great way to save money and eliminates the need to clip-and-save coupons from flyers.
The point is that elimination does not mean you have to go without the things you love. Just make an effort to find less expensive alternatives.
Now that you’ve itemized your spending and eliminated non-essential items, you can get started tracking your money. It’s a good idea to review receipts and bank statements to see where you’re currently spending most of your money.
You’ll then want to put a system in place for staying within your budget. There are a number of online tools that you can use to set up and track your budget expenses.
But you can also track it the old-fashioned way by having a budget written out on paper. Determine how much you’ll spend in each category and commit to sticking to your goals.
Accountability is critical. If you can enlist a friend or loved one to help you stay on track, share your goals with them and give them permission to keep an eye on your spending.
Consider the cash envelope method. Have a one envelope for each category of spending. Place a pre-determined amount of cash in each. When the envelope is empty, you know you’ve reached your spending limit.
If you’re planning on tracking your budget this way, consider investing in a home safe to ensure your money remains safe.
A simple plan is the best solution for making sure you don’t run out of money before the end of the month, but it will require some time and effort on your part. Go through your spending and determine where you can cut out unnecessary purchases.
Having a system in place, along with accountability in sticking to your plan, will help you track your progress and meet your goals. Over time, you’ll reduce your monthly spending and will be able to avoid worrying about reaching the end of your funds before your next cheque.