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If you decide to be financially healthy, all of your financial goals should start with the same thing: a budget.
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“A family budget is important because it helps create a plan for how you’re going to use your money now and in the future,” said Ahren Tiller, founder and supervising attorney at The Bankruptcy Law Center. “Everyone has different needs, so developing a budget that works for you and your family will help you prioritize how to spend your money in the most efficient way possible.”
Everyone has different needs, indeed – and they also have different personalities, different habits, different strengths and weaknesses. The good news is that there is a budget for everyone. Set yourself up for financial success by creating a budget that works for you and your lifestyle.
Before you learn about different budgeting strategies and the types of people they tend to suit, start by adopting a financially conscious mindset – without this, you’ll never stick to a budget, no matter what. either whichever you choose.
“The most effective budgeting strategy is simply being mindful,” said Greg Wilson, chartered financial analyst and owner of the budgeting and frugal living site. ChaChingQueen.com. “Many of us don’t know where our money is going. We all know what we earn before taxes, but not all of us know what we take home. Just knowing what you spend and how much you Take home is the best basis for a budget, after which you can decide whether or not to try sticking to the tracking strategies.
There are a million apps that can link your accounts, track your monthly subscriptions, and break down your spending categories into neat little pie charts. But if you’ve never tracked your income and expenses before, an old-fashioned pen and paper may be the closest and most personal way to familiarize yourself with your finances.
“If you’re new to budgeting, an effective budgeting strategy is to simply start tracking your money coming in and going out,” said Jacqueline Gilchrist, founder of MomMoneyMap.com. “Get a sheet of paper or open a spreadsheet and tally up for the previous month the money that came in, e.g. salary, bonuses, tips, etc., and the money that was spent, eg mortgage, utilities, cell phone bill, etc. You just need to get in the habit of knowing how money flows and what you have left or if you have overspent. If you’re a beginner, I find doing the process manually like this is the easiest way to start. You can always add complexity with apps or other budgeting techniques once you understand your financial situation. »
Useful: 19 effective ways to manage your budget
If your money is disappearing before you even know it’s there – slipping out of your life unaccounted for by credit cards, Venmo, PayPal and the rest – then consider the budget which is based on type of money. money you can touch.
“It will take a bit of time, but basically every month the money is split into different envelopes that represent different categories,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. “And the money in those envelopes is the only amount you can spend on the respective categories. So when the money in the envelope runs out, that’s it – you can’t spend any more on that category that month. -the.
There are, of course, downsides to dealing only with paper money.
“The downside is that you’ll either have to carry envelopes with cash or at least store them in a safe place at home, and for many consumers, keeping lots of cash on hand can uncomfortable,” Ramhold said. “Nevertheless, it can be a great method for those trying to control spending and eliminate debt, as it puts a strict limit on the budget and helps reduce the risk of bank account overdrafts as well as bank balances. credit card. .”
50/30/20: For those who want to keep it simple
If counting pennies and keeping receipts isn’t your thing, the 50/30/20 model follows a basic format that doesn’t require much analysis or maintenance.
“It’s a pretty classic budget model,” Ramhold said. “Users reserve 50% of their income for essentials like housing, bills and food, while 30% is reserved for personal ‘fun’ expenses, such as dining out, travel, hobbies and more. The other 20% is for saving, although I’ve seen some models that swap the 30% and 20% so that 30% is for savings and 20% is for entertainment. is a good budget for anyone trying to look at their overall financial picture rather than exploring hyper-specific categories.
Related: 101 Simple Ways to Save Money Every Day
On the other side of the 50/30/20 coin is zero-based budgeting, an intense format that only works for the most meticulous budgeters.
“It’s an incredibly practical form of budgeting,” Ramhold said. “Basically, you allocate every dollar that comes in to a category, whether it’s bills, entertainment, retirement, whatever. Funds that are not fully utilized in one category can be transferred to another if needed (or desired). This is a very tedious setup, as the goal is to get to “zero”, in the sense that every incoming dollar is counted. It’s good for people who want to be very granular in their approach to budgeting, as well as Type A personalities who do well with a lot of control.
Also called “pay yourself first,” this strategy prioritizes money above all else.
“You’ll choose how much to save each month and that’s the one tough number to stick to,” Ramhold said. “The rest of your funds can be spent however you want or need. This is a truly hands-off approach, pretty much the exact opposite of zero-based budgeting, so it’s good for those who already have a good handle on smart spending and just need to make sure they’re saving a specific amount on a regular basis.It can also be good for young people who don’t yet have a lot of bills to pay.
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