The “B” Word…Budget

Letter B

B is for Budget

Part 2: Budgeting 101

We all know what it is. We cringe when we hear it. Parents pound it into our heads when we get to college and as adults we still look at it like it has three heads. The dreaded…Budget. But why is it such a bad word? People hear ‘budget’ and might associate it with words like restriction, limited, negative, tight and hard. However, if we simply change the word, we might be able to change the perception too. Instead of budget, let’s consider the term “spending plan”, because that’s all a budget is! A spending plan is your road map to how you want to spend your money. Liberating, isn’t it? You get to spend your money the way you want to have the lifestyle you so desire! Today we are going to review the steps to creating a livable spending plan. Don’t just look at these steps and move on. Sit down and complete them, so you can create a liberating spending plan that’s all about you!

Preparation 1: List your SMART goals.
Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic and Time-Oriented. For example: I am going to pay off the $3,000 (measurable) I owe on my car in 10 months (time-oriented) by making $335 payments monthly (specific and realistic). Two months later, I run into a medical emergency and I have to drop my payment by $50 for two months. Then I bring it back to the original goal. That makes this plan adjustable as needed.

Preparation 2: Identify Your Spending Leaks
What is a spending leak? A spending leak is a place where you are overspending money. For example, how much money could you save by getting that large caramel macchiato with an extra shot only on weekends or every other day instead of everyday?

Step 1: List all your income
This includes salary, bonuses, interest, tax refunds, incoming child support, etc.

Step 2: Determine where your money goes
List all your expenses and don’t forget to PAY YOURSELF FIRST. Savings should be your first expense no matter how much or little you start putting in. This is the step where you build your SMART goals into your budget.

Step 3: Balance your income and expenses
If you have more income than expenses, you can save more money! If you have more expenses than income, you will have to work on those spending leaks!

Step 4: Develop a good tracking system
There are so many different ways to track your system. Insight members can access Balance through our website for worksheets and great information. That is available here. If you are not a member, the internet has great options as well. Check this website out. The important part is to find a system that resonates well in you.

Step 5: Manage the system
Be flexible. Stay on top of things. Change what you need to make the system better for you. Communicate the system to anyone involved in the budget like your spouse!

Do you want more information on this topic? Email us at FreeSeminars@InsightCreditUnion.com to request a community seminar in your area! And be sure to stay tuned for Part 3 of our series…we’ll be talking Identity Theft.

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