In today’s tough economy, households need to do all they can to make ends meet comfortably. This means taking steps to trim costs when possible, control spending and plan out future expenditures with a degree of flexibility.
Many folks start with drafting a budget, which is a relatively uncomplicated process. With the right approach and attention to detail, people who want to keep their spending down each month will find a great deal of success if they employ a budget and then stick to it.
This article will focus on common-sense strategies for drafting a home budget. By following these guidelines, folks will have a great starting point for when they decide to sit down with their loved ones and hash out a budget.
Starting with the basics
Before you can plan out your spending, you’ll need to figure out exactly what you do with your money. The simplest way to do so is to collect a month’s worth of receipts. This will give you a good picture of where your cash is going. We recommend sorting it all into categories, such as home goods, food and energy. A “Miscellaneous” section is useful as well, and you can put your entertainment and leisure spending here.
You’ll also want to take a look at your bill statements for a month. Given that these are mandatory expenditures, they deserve a category all their own. By lumping them all together, you can begin to look at your average costs in terms of mandatory and discretionary spending.
After you have a general number — let’s say you spend roughly $3,000 per month — you’ll probably want to account for a little bit more so that you have some flexibility built in. These funds could go toward parking tickets or unexpected purchases that you simply can’t predict, such as auto repair. By doing so, you’ll have some breathing room when one of these expenses appears on the horizon.
Working your budget
Once you actually have the budget in place, it’s time to start using it. There are two fundamental purposes for a home budget: Categorizing your spending and laying out ways to reduce it. For example, let’s say that your family spends $500 a month on groceries. Yet maybe, at the grocery store you shop at, there are coupons that you can consistently use that shave $20 off the bill. If you’re able to realize this reduction, put that money into your “Miscellaneous” category or into a savings account. You should try to do this elsewhere in your budget if possible.
It should be noted that there will be fluctuations. For example, energy costs change throughout the year, as seasonal differences can lower or increase your heat, electricity and water bills. But after you get used to budgeting your income, you’ll be able to weather these differences with little to no difficulty.
Paying it forward
Another important thing to consider is how a home budget brings about a degree of financial security. By directing your money more proactively, you’re eliminating any doubt or the risk of living in economic uncertainty. It’s not only vital for your well-being, but for that of your family as well.
This is why a life insurance policy is worth considering. Life insurance provides a financial backstop for your loved ones during a time when they’ll need it the most. If you’re the primary breadwinner in your household and your family’s livelihood depends on your income, they will need financial support to help them transition through a difficult time.