Need Help Setting Your Financial Budget?
Every now and then, most of us could use a little help with budgeting our finances. It's a hot topic whether a Budgeting 101 class should be included in the standard curriculum in our schools, as money management is an inevitable responsibility every adult must tackle.
Nevertheless, it's never too late to learn some tips and tricks on how you can better and more responsibly handle your money.
Determine Your Net Income
While banks are generally thought of as a safe place to keep your money, several considerations affect just how secure your deposits may really be. FDIC insurance covers deposits up to $250,000 per depositor per institution in the event of a bank failure. To verify that a particular bank is FDIC insured, you can use the FDIC's BankFind tool. Various types of accounts, such as retirement accounts and joint accounts, may be treated differently. And remember that if your accounts total more than $250,000, any excess may be exposed to loss.
The first step to take when creating a budget is to determine the amount of money you will have coming in. It can be easy to overestimate this number if you think of your total salary as the amount of spending money you have. Be sure to factor in any deductions you might have. 401(k) contributions, taxes, Social Security, insurance, and savings are just a few examples of how your paycheck may be cut and divided every month. Your final "take away" money is called net income and is the number you should use when creating a budget.
Track Your Spending
Once you estimate how much money you have, it's important to track where all that money goes, so you know where and when to make adjustments. Luckily, this can be made easy with the plethora of smartphone apps available to us, able to track anything from calories, walking steps, to what we spend our dough on.
A good starting point to track your spending is to make a list of all your fixed expenses. These are regular, monthly billed expenses, such as rent, mortgages, home/car loans, or utilities. Next, list your variable expenses – non-fixed expenses that may change month-to-month, such as groceries, gas, or entertainment. Having this in writing (whether on paper or in an app on your phone) can help you set a budget.
Change Habits if Necessary
When you're tracking your spending and notice that you've been going out to eat every night, or frequenting your favorite stores, it may be time for a change. One benefit to tracking how you spend your money is being able to identify excess spending easily. Don't be afraid to make some lifestyle changes towards habits that may be hurting your wallet. Aside from over-indulgence, it's just wise not to spend more than you have, and it is better to direct your funds to needs and necessities.
Make A Plan
T Creating a budget doesn't always require the need for a big, grandiose savings plan. It can be as simple as agreeing not to go out to eat more than once a week and to cut back on where you would usually be spending. But big or small, setting a budget does require some form of planning.
Seeking out help from your local, hometown bank (preferably with low rates and bank fees) can be a great start when figuring out what sort of budgeting plan works best for your circumstances. Bank visits are necessarily "fun", so look for a bank that's convenient in its location or that offers online banking, mobile banking, or a method of online bill pay to save you a trip. Once you get a plan in order, creating financial goals for yourself is a great motivator to stay on track with your budget.
The 50/30/20 Rule
One tried and true, popular budgeting system is the 50/30/20 rule. After taxes, 50% of your income goes towards needs, 30% on wants, and 20% for a savings account and debt repayments. This plan is linear and concrete and doesn't allow for much modification based on your personal circumstances. However, it's a good baseline standard on how you should be budgeting your money.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who will sometimes wait with bated breath for my banking app to load and show me what's left in my account for that month. It can be mildly terrifying to check to see what's left in your checking account. Setting and maintaining a budget requires that you stop by frequently to ensure your spending looks correct.
Hopefully, you are now feeling a bit more prepared on what setting a budget looks like and entails. If you have further questions or inquiries about setting up your budget, visit us at any of our Citizens State Bank branches throughout East Texas. Spend your money responsibly and happy savings.