Making a budget is the easiest and cheapest way to manage your finances from home. This simple tool will allow you to plan how you spend your money and calibrate your spending habits. It may seem tricky to get started, but budgeting can be fairly quick and easy if you follow these simple tips.
Finding the Right Format
There are many ways that you can make a budget. While there is also the old-fashioned option to write your expenses down in a dedicated notebook, we suggest using your computer. The program Excel is by far the best to use to create your budgeting tool. The program is fairly easy to use even for beginners, and will allow you to use automatic formulas to make your calculations. That way, you can just update the file every time it is needed, and it will do the calculations for you.
There are also apps for smartphones that allow you to make and keep track of your budget directly on your phone. The Application Mint for example, allows you to easily monitor your banking activities and plan your spending.
Track Your Expenses
Most banks now have their own mobile apps that allow you to track your spending on your accounts almost instantaneously. You can even set up alerts when you spend more than an amount you set yourself or when you have only a certain amount left in your account.
When using debit or credit cards, we do not see the amount going up or down in our accounts. One very easy trick to make sure you do not go over budget is to use cash instead of cards. For example, if your budget allows you to spend a maximum of $100 a month for eating out, put the money in an envelope to make sure you know how much you have left and refrain yourself from over spending. You can use an envelope for each thing in your budget that you need to watch out for.
Review Your Budget Every Month
By tracking expenses you can spend on mobile apps or on your Excel document, you can see your expenses and adjust them from one month to the next. If, for example, you see that you are spending more than you expected on your grocery store, you have to reduce another spending item to increase that or find ways to spend less.
It may take you several months to be perfectly comfortable with your budget but you will ultimately see that it is not a waste of time. This simple exercise can help you avoid certain debts and even save money more easily.