Establishing a monthly budget is all about creating a plan for your money. Once you learn how, you’ll feel empowered and better prepared to plan for your future. Here are five steps to help you manage your daily expenses while saving for the future:
Possible income sources include: paychecks, dividends, interest, social security, pension, rental income, child support/alimony or tax credits/refunds. Be realistic in your estimate of non-guaranteed income sources such as bonuses, incentives and overtime pay. Update current income amounts as changes occur.
1. List all sources of income
Divide expenses into the following categories:
2. Determine monthly expenses
Once you have listed your expenses, list the amounts that correspond to each expense. You will be able to quickly fill in many of the fixed categories while inputting an estimated average for the variable and periodic categories.
- Fixed: mortgage/rent, auto loans
- Variable: food, clothing, gifts
- Periodic: taxes, insurance
This is where your financial picture starts to come together. Utilize a budget template to easily track your finances or take advantage of helpful online tools like My Money Manager℠.
3. Balance income and expenses
If your income exceeds expenses, you’ll have additional money for saving, reducing debt or covering immediate household costs. If your expenses exceed income, make adjustments to your variable expense categories. One option to save money is to take advantage of Mountain America’s value analyzer. Just stop in any Mountain America branch to determine ways to potentially save money on interest payments.
Confirm that your budget is helping you save toward your financial goals while giving you the freedom to enjoy life. Putting a set amount in a Savings account each month is a great way to stay on track.
4. Review your budget worksheet monthly
The longer you keep track of your financial picture, the easier it will be to set and keep a budget and the more you’ll be able to achieve your financial goals. Commit to managing your budget long term by reviewing the information monthly to make necessary adjustments.
As you implement these budgeting tips, remember to be flexible and modify as you go. Your household budget will likely require several attempts to determine the correct categories and amounts needed for your particular situation.
5. Analyze and revise with budgeting tools
Get additional information and resources on making a budget:
A Beginner’s Guide to Investing and Budgeting
5 Ways Millennials Can Save Money and Budget Wisely
Budgeting to Reduce Debt
How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck