Budgeting Basics

Introduction

Budgeting is an essential tool for managing your finances. By keeping track of your spending and saving, you can ensure that you are on the right path towards living safely and comfortably. The next few lessons will help you get started with creating a budget, (also known as a spending plan,) and tracking your spending. This will help you get a better understanding of your financial situation. Throughout this course we will be referring to a monthly system, however these principles can be used for other lengths of time as well.

 

Step 1: Track Your Spending

The first step in creating a budget is to track your spending. This will give you a good idea of what you are spending your money on, how much you are spending, and when you are spending it. You can track your spending in various ways, such as:

  • Writing down everything you spend in a notebook or on a notetaker
  • Keeping receipts and categorizing them later
  • Using a budgeting app or spreadsheet

It’s important to track your spending for at least a month to get an accurate picture of your habits, but longer is better.

Step 2: Identify Your Needs and Wants

Once you have a good idea of your spending habits, it’s time to identify your needs and wants. Your needs are the essentials that you cannot live without, such as food, housing, and transportation. Your wants are non-essential items that you would like to have, such as entertainment or eating out. It’s important to prioritize your needs over your wants when creating your budget. By doing this, you can ensure that your budget is helping you reach your financial goals.

Step 3: Make a Spending Plan

Now that you have identified your needs and wants, it’s time to make a plan. This is where you will determine how much you need to spend on each category. Start by calculating your income and subtracting your fixed expenses, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, and insurance. Then, allocate the remaining amount to your other expenses, such as food, transportation, and entertainment. Make sure to leave some room in your budget for savings, even if it’s just a small amount.

Step 4: Implement Your Budget

Now that you have a plan, it’s time to implement it. This means following your budget every day, so you can ensure that you are staying on track. If you find that you are overspending in a certain category, it’s okay to make adjustments to your budget. The important thing is to keep track of your spending and make changes as needed.

Step 5: Review and Adjust

Finally, it’s important to review your budget regularly to see if you need to make any adjustments. As your circumstances change, such as a pay increase or a new expense, you may need to adjust your budget. By following these steps, you can create a budget that works for you and helps you live more safely and comfortably over time.

Further Reading