Tips to budget successfully

This is a guest post written by Andreas Nicolaides, a financial author for UK based MoneySupermarket.com.

Whether your aim is to save money for a special occasion or you just want to make sure you don’t have to struggle financially when it comes to the end of the month, a budget can be a saving grace. Budgets help us quickly and easily identify our total income and all our expenditure, allowing us to plan for the best and prepare for the worst financial situations.

Set yourself a target

If you have decided to set up a budget, then there must be a reason. Are you looking to save for an upcoming event? Or maybe you have realised that you are struggling to make your payments every month and you would like to feel more financially secure. Based on what you would like to get out of your budget, you should set yourself a specific, measurable objective.

My first objective I set for myself was to save $100 every month for a year. This sort of objective is easy to manage and easy to monitor and this is what we are trying to achieve. One important thing I would mention here is to ensure your objective is achievable; don’t set yourself a target that is too far out of your reach, being realistic is extremely important.

How do you set up your budget?

The main key thing when you start to put your budget together is to make sure you’re as honest as possible. Get yourself a pen and some paper and on one page detail all of your income. Include the obvious and also remember to include any benefits you are entitled too. Then grab another piece of paper and detail all of your monthly outgoings, remember to be honest and thorough and try not to forget anything. Once you have both figures, deduct your expenditure from your monthly income that will give you your monthly figure.

You have some extra cash?

If when you have your figure you realise that there is some cash left over, you can then decide what you want to do with it. My advice here depends on your own personal circumstances, for example if you have high levels of debt, your main aim should be tackle your high interest debt aggressively and as often as possible.

If you have some money left over and your aim is to save, then set up an interest bearing bank account. If you are based in the US then you could look to set up an LSA or lifetime savers account. In the UK we have the equivalent, that is called a cash ISA saving account.

No money left over?

If after working out your budget you find you have no money left over, then you need to do something about it. Debt is one of those things that won’t just disappear overnight; it’s something that takes time and commitment, but not giving up is paramount.

How to cut down your expenditures?

One of the main things you can do when you realise you are in a bad situation is to try and cut down on your expenditure. Here’s a couple of quick ways:

  • Use price comparison sites – These sites are great to check and see if you are paying too much on your bills, and if you are, you will have a list of fantastic options available for you to choose from. This is a great way of saving money on things like your car insurance, see here.
  • Sell unwanted items – Selling unwanted items is a quick way to making some cash, everyone has them around their home, so why not make use of them instead of letting them build up dust?
  • Cut down on your spending – Try to avoid buying luxuries and try to stick to a specific shopping list when out doing the weekly food shop, this will help you avoid unnecessary purchases

A budget is used by many just to monitor what they spend month to month, but I hope I have detailed how it can be a helpful financial tool that can help you reach your financial goals. I hope my tips to budget successfully will help you get started on your way to financial freedom.

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