Looking at Budgeting
Your budget is your blueprint for keeping cash flow positive, and for sticking to your saving goals.
Whether you’re single, supporting others, and/or have a partner, it’s essential to have one overall household budget. That big picture is indispensable for having a good sense, based on actual numbers, of where your household stands financially, and how you plan to stay on track throughout the year.
Remember, a budget is there to help you, and it’s not written in stone.
Create a spreadsheet, or use an app, to list all your anticipated monthly expenses. It can be helpful to divide them by how frequently they occur.
Fixed vs. Variable
For the fixed expenses, such as rent or phone, it’s easy to fill in the exact amount you know you’ll have to spend. On the other hand, with the variable expenses, like groceries, there is no single exact amount. But based on what you know you spend, you should be able to estimate a fairly accurate number for most weeks.
The next step is to compare your income to your expenses. In order to achieve (and maintain) a positive cash flow, you may have to adjust some of the variable expenses—which probably means cutting back or cutting some of them out altogether. You can go back to the answers you and your partner gave when you had the conversation about what kinds of expenses would be the easiest, and the most difficult to forego.
Illustration: Chelsea Miller
You should revisit your budget on a regular basis. Remember, it’s there to help you both, and it’s not written in stone. Adjusting it if your overall household income changes is important.
Divide your anticipated expenses based on how frequently they occur. Making a spreadsheet or using a budgeting app can help track your expenses more easily.
Spread the Wealth
If your budget changes because you get an influx of cash, maybe from a bonus or an inheritance, you may be tempted to use it to cover increased variable expenses, like eating out, travel, or the newest phone. Certainly using some of the money that way is fine. But it’s also a great opportunity to pay down debt or to increase what you’re putting away in savings—either in an emergency fund, a retirement plan, or your investment portfolio.
Looking for an easy way to save? Create an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account. Schedule it on a monthly basis or to coincide with the direct deposit of your paycheck. You can start with a smaller amount and work up to a larger saving amount as time goes on and you figure out your budget. Automatic transfers help do the work for you so you don’t have to decide to save each time you get paid – you’ve already decided to start saving!
If you want a separate account for things like holidays, vacations or remodeling projects, you can open a Secondary Savings account. For longer term savings trying a Term Share Certificate or Money Market account that could earn you higher interest rates. Or, think about an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for long-term tax-deferred savings.
Whatever your savings needs, we’ve got you covered.
You can try creating a budget with our easy and free coach session below.
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