As we grow from children through the teenage years and into young adults we are taught many things, both from our parents and through school, but the one thing the vast majority of people are never taught is how to budget money. Unfortunately this is the one skill that everyone needs to know. Keeping a proper budget and tracking what your money is doing is the best way to stay out of debt and build wealth.
Money is a powerful tool in life, if we learn to make it work for us. Most people work for their money but once they have it, in their paycheck, more often then not they do not keep track of it once it hits their checking account. Writing down expenditures in the check book register is not keeping track of your money because once it is written in there it is never looked at again.
Learning to budget your money is an important step in your financial health. Once you have written down your income and expenses you will start to see where you money is going and some of it may surprise you. It will be the small expenses that add up the quickest. Spending five dollars on lunch everyday, or that morning coffee you get on the way to work can add up to several hundred dollars a month. That is money that could be doing more good if used more wisely.
Let’s put some math to that. If you spend 5 dollars for lunch a day during the work week that’s $25 a week or $100 a month, give or take $5. Over the course of a year that’s $1200 spent on lunches. If you start adding all the other small expenses that occur every month before long you may find you have enough to pay off any debt you may have but also start saving towards a healthy financial future.
The first step to learning to budget money is writing everything down. Start with you monthly income and write that down at the top of a piece of paper. Now you know how much money you have to spend through the month. Start figuring up all your monthly expenses. This includes everything from your mortgage and utility payments, car payments, credit cards on down to the smallest expenditures. Write these down keeping them in specific categories. Subtract your expenses from you income and see what’s left.
This is your first budget because it shows you what your money has been doing every month. Now that you do indeed have a budget you can look at it becomes much easier to not only see where the money is going but also take back control of where the money is going. And when that happens you can start to set goals, both short term and long term, for your money.
It will take some time to get your money budget dialed in. Most people say that if they stick with it they start to get a firm grasp on their budget and money situation in about 3 months. If you never learned to properly budget money the best way to get started is to just get started.