10 Commandments of Budgeting
One thing we often hear about financial success is that you have to spend less than what you earn. Easy right? Well, if it was that easy, we would not have created this article along with the thousands of others on how to manage your budget. Taking the time to manage your budget better, can really help you in the long run! It can guide you to stay on top of your debt AND help you save money. You can even use these extra savings to pay off debt faster. Imagine putting this extra money towards your next holiday or finally doing that home improvement that you always wanted to do! Budgeting is vital to good financial health
The first thing to know about building the perfect budget is:
What is a budget?
Simply put, a budget is an itemized summary of likely income and expenses for a given period. It is typically created using a spreadsheet. Here at Cyber Finance, our consultants will be able to help you set up your first budget. It will provide a concrete, organized, and easily understandable breakdown of how much money you have coming in, and how much you are spending. It’s an invaluable tool to help you prioritize your spending and manage your money, no matter how much or how little you have!
Setting up a budget will help you confirm the following:
- Will I end up over indebted?
- What unexpected cost could there be?
- Is a positive Credit Record even possible?
- Will my house or vehicle loan be approved?
Will I be able to increase my payments while having enough left to pay for the other necessities?
So lets get into the 10 commandments of budgeting!
1. Start with the basics
Should you have a budget in place, but it is not working for you could start completely from scratch! Even if this is your first real budget on paper, let’s start with the basics. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What is my full monthly income?
2. How much do I spend on bills every month?
3. How much do I want to spend and how much do I want to save?
With these 3 questions already answered, you have a good foundation to start on.
2. Have a Target
The most difficult thing about a budget is to keep it going once you get started. A Good way of motivating yourself is to have a target for your budget. It could be to pay off all your current debt as fast as possible or even going on that dream holiday overseas. Some might consider doing those kitchen renovations that you always wanted to do or just saving for your retirement.
The good thing about these 10 Commandments of Budgeting is that you can apply them in any situation. Whether for personal, family or business needs, you can always apply these steps to help organise your finances.
3. Keep track of everything
Make sure that you track EVERYTHING that you earn and spend. That sounds overly meticulous, but it isn’t really. There are many ways today to keep track of it all. It comes in handy when you have a Spending Tracking App right on your phone! You are already using your phone for everything else and you never go anywhere without it, now do you? Click here to read more about the 5 Best Spending Tracking Apps. When you keep track of your budget in this way, you end up having a better understanding on where you are spending wastefully and where you can apply your funds better, e.g. putting money away for your Retirement Fund or reducing your debt.
4. Need before want
When most of us think of budgeting, we think of basics rent, food and utilities expenses. Then we usually go straight to “How much can I spend on the fun stuff?” But our minds often trick us into prioritizing wants over needs. As you build up the specifics in your budget, think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see below). Your physiological needs (food, clothing, shelter) are most important, followed by safety (insurance, utilities), and so on. Down to the luxuries, that is the least important. Think of it this way: True wealth isn’t about stuff; it’s about having the freedom to do what you want with your life!
5. Take care of your debt
If you’ve racked up some bad debt over the years, your budget needs a bit of extra special care. Whether you’re completely broke, living pay check-to-pay check, or barely scraping by, you should prioritize getting out of debt now! We can assist you with a Free Debt Assessment. One of our Debt Counsellors can help you restructure your debt, should you qualify.
“Speak to one of our professional financial advisers today for an obligation free assessment.”
6. Give yourself some breathing space
You probably have heard the phrase “everything in moderation.” The same applies to budgeting. If you budget too meticulously, it is only going to stress you out. Give yourself reasonable expectations and flexibility. Make sure you put some money away for an emergency and don’t forget to budget for the fun things too! If you’re the type that splurges, maybe you need to create a splurge budget to avoid overspending or only allow yourself to use the money once you’ve accomplished certain goals. Whatever you do, don’t neglect the fun things and give yourself some breathing room for those unexpected expenses!
7. Weaknesses in your budget
We are all human and we all have our weaknesses. That’s alright, but keep in mind your own weaknesses when you are budgeting with a partner or family member. Ask them to help you control your urges and keep you on the straight and narrow. If not, you can always budget for your weakness. Plan ahead if you know you are going to want to spend or start taking money away from your savings budgeted amount for other things. Knowing what your weakness is can help you budget and plan ahead.
8. Cut back on your budget
After a month or two of using your new budget, you will be able to start seeing your spending trends. If you are spending more than two thirds / 80% of what you have coming in, you need to identify where you can cut back. This could be as easy as making your lunch at home, or canceling a gym membership you don’t use. Making room for more important payments is important to help towards achieving your monthly targets.
9. Adjust your budget accordingly in time
Not everyone gets their budget exactly right the first time. Not even me! As life changes, your budget needs and targets will also change. Adjusting your budget according to seasons is also a good idea. Back to school, Christmas, birthday months or even cold winter adds unique expenses to your budget. There are different expenses for every period or time of the year! Adjusting your budget according to your income and needs will allow you to always have a well-structured budgeting plan.
10. Stick to the plan
This is the hardest part for most of us. You have to stick to your budget. Keep track of it every month. Wait 48 hours before making any big financial decisions and most importantly, accept that every once in a while, you’ll blow it… and that’s okay. The best way to keep your budget is to have a healthy relationship with your money and not let it stress you out.
The first step to taking control of your finances is by setting up a proper budget. These 10 commandments of budgeting will give you that perfect jump start. It will take a bit of effort from your side, but it is definitely the right way to take control of your money. Borrowing and taking out loans to cover your expenses will only work against you, and will only get you even deeper into debt!