If you have a job or any business that brings in regular income, you know how much money is coming in. But do you know where it’s really going? Many people don’t know the answer to this question, but it’s an important one to ask.
Here are five tips on how you can develop a budget from scratch.
Determine Your Take Home Income
Don’t get this mixed up with your gross income, which is the amount you’re bringing in before expenses. You want to look at your net amount, which is the money that will actually hit your account. And you need to know when the money will be deposited. Is it once a month, or is it every two weeks? Even if you get paid every two weeks, consider converting that amount into what it would be if you got paid monthly.
Have a Plan
A lot of people know what’s coming in, but they have no idea where it’s going. That’s why you need to have a plan. Break it down into needs, wants, and savings. You also want to come up with strategy on how to reduce your debt. Come up with a system, and have the discipline to follow it. The envelope method is an old-school strategy, where you put money into certain envelopes that are broken down into specific items on your budget. But you can use whatever system works for you.
Track Your Progress
You need to know your numbers, and there are many ways you can keep track of where your money is going. Online budgeting is a great way to get this accomplished, and there are many apps (such as Mint and EveryDollar) that can give you the information you need to keep track of your progress.
Technology makes it easier to buy stuff, which is why many people have the “Amazon box problem.” Many times, having some kind of accountability can be a great solution. Be honest with yourself. Most people can’t stop spending, so they are the problem. That’s why you need to remove yourself from this habit. Think of saving and debt reduction as bills you have to pay, and be sure to systematize it. The more you can get that money away from you, the better.
Based on everything we’ve been through in recent months, nothing will ever go exactly as planned. There will be setbacks, but make sure you don’t blow things out of proportion. Instead, celebrate the wins. If you pay something down, get to a certain cash reserve level, or you manage to get your 401(k) to where it was before, feel good about those accomplishments. And always keep moving forward.
For more advice on how you can develop a solid budget based on your current cash flow, be sure to reach out to Trevor Shakiba at Shakiba Capital.