A key way to be responsible with your finances is creating a budget and keeping it. Knowing where every penny of your hard-earned money is goes allows you to trim excess spending and save for life plans such as family events, traveling, and retirement. April is not only when your taxes are due but it is also Financial Literacy Month and there is no time like the present to start a budget.
The benefits of creating a budget are clear. Money is one of the most stressful parts of our lives and when we budget some of that stress is relieved. Learning how to responsibly manage our money takes time and effort. But remembering the long-term benefits can help you stick to it.
A budget is very similar to a New Years resolution. Each starts off with good intentions but falls apart without a solid plan.
Haley's 3 Tips For Staying On Track With Your Budget
- Find a "Budget Buddy": People who state goals out loud or write them down are more likely to follow through. Keeping a budget with a friend or mentor is a smart way to stick to your financial goals. Choosing someone you trust is necessary for mutual accountability. Plus you are not only helping yourself succeed but also the other person.Deciding how often and where you meet is up to you and your partner.
- Choose What Works for You: You can take the electronic route, using downloadable spreadsheets or phone and tablet applications as tools for planning your budget. If you like doing things the old fashioned way, you can always keep your budget in a notebook.
- Track Your Spending: Accounting for your spending--which you should really do before you create a budget--ensures that you are not going over specific amounts allocated to each day, week, or month. Printing out your bank statements or writing down everything you buy for a trial period (maybe two weeks) can help you analyze how you are spending your money.
“What I find is that once people have good habits about living within their means, it creates a real sense of empowerment and positive control that is reinforcing. Even if the notion of a budget gives you a headache—try it for a few months just so you can feel the sense of self-control it can create.”
When you budget, save, and spend your money wisely, you are making room for long-term plans such as:
planning for retirement
saving for family plans
creating a cushion for unforeseen expenses
Earning money is one task and managing it is a whole other ballgame. Once you have created your budget, establish a routine to keep you on track towards your financial and personal goals. Take these tips with you to establish healthy finances.
A food enthusiast and native Georgia Peach, Haley recently graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelors of Science in Sustainable Development. Currently interning at the United States House of Representatives, she is passionate about the outdoors, improved access to quality education for all, public policy, and documenting “from stress to success in the city.” Click here to read more about and connect with Haley.
Edited by Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.How do you keep track of your finances?