Welcome to 2022! It’s a fresh start and a new year, a blank slate for you to adopt new habits and get yourself ready for success in all aspects of your life.
One popular resolution that might feel a little intimidating is creating and sticking to a budget. It makes a lot of sense to track your dollars and cents, but it can feel like a massive and scary task.
It doesn’t have to be! Here are a few pieces of advice you can take to the bank.
1. Gather your bills and start an honest conversation with yourself.
A budget is essentially a spending outline, right? The best place to start that outline is a cold, hard look at the facts. How much do you spend every month? Start with the big, fixed, and predictable (or less) expenses: Your rent or mortgage amount, utilities, car payment, insurance, credit card payments, phone, internet, loans, etc. Then do your best to estimate the rest: groceries, gas or transportation costs, entertainment, etc. If it helps, open up your checkbook or online bank account and track your spending over a month.
2. See where you can make some changes.
How many regular expenses and how many were one-off items, like an emergency bill? How many bills are subscription services that you don’t even use? Are there automatic withdrawals that are “set it and forget it” type expenses? Might you benefit from a loan or credit card consolidation? There can be ways to help ease your budget stress by getting rid of bills you don’t realize you have or by consolidating credit card debt or refinancing loans. It might take a few phone calls, but the savings can add up!
3. Start dividing up your income into buckets.
Now that you’ve gotten a handle on how much money you’re spending each month take a look at how much money you bring home and start dividing it up. Please take out a pen and paper, or open a new spreadsheet — however you like to work, but you need to write it down — and write a list of your expenses and when bills are due. Some people will make a series of envelopes for each predictable expense. And then start a few new ones — for an emergency fund and for something in the future. This will help you establish a financial cushion and give you something to look forward to, a reason to stay focused and keep working toward your goals. Speaking of…
4. Set some financial goals.
Much like the interview question, ask yourself where you want to be in five years, money-wise. If you have dreams about living in a different place or driving a newer car, maybe taking a trip or paying off a big loan, here’s where you can put thought into action. Giving yourself to make changes can keep you motivated and can make some of those seemingly painful restrictions a little more tolerable.
5. Track your progress.
Keep a close eye on your spending and saving for the first month. After three months, see whether you’ve made any dents in your debt while setting aside some savings. Know in advance you’ll have a day or week where you fall into old habits. That’s ok! Start the next day again and keep trying.
There are some great online tools to help you start and keep a budget, and many of them are free to use. That way, you’re not working alone!
Build Your Future with Davis Staffing
And speaking of work, if the dollars going out of your pocket to add up to more than the dollars included in your paycheck, call Davis Staffing. We can help you find a great new job with a better pay rate to help make this budget stuff a little easier. Connect with Davis Staffing today, and let’s get started on the road to a better future!