Diet and exercise. When reading up on healthy strategies for dodging illness, pains, disease, stress and tension in the body, doctors continually recommend ‘diet and exercise’ as a preventive measure. But what do we tend to do? Eat poorly and sit around all day…watching TV, having drinks with friends, reading a book (well, reading a book isn’t bad but you get what I’m saying!) We tend to justify our behavior with excuses like, “I’m so tired from work” or “I just need to relieve some stress” or even “I deserve this tasty meal, I deserve to treat myself!” But are we really “treating” ourselves by gaining more weight and eating poorly? The same goes for our spending habits, and we often times use the same excuses like, “I work hard for this money, and shouldn’t I enjoy it?” Are you really ‘enjoying’ your income if you constantly spend what you cant afford and place yourself in deeper debt?
So now that you know what your spending habits are, let’s dig into the budget moving forward. There are some basic ideals to keep in mind when creating your budget. Take a look at your income first, that will probably be the easiest. What income is coming in on a consistent basis? Are you on a fixed income? Salaried? You want to write with the income that you are confident about. If you work a part time position and your hours vary from week to week but you bring in at least 50 hours every two weeks, you want your budget to reflect the 50 hours every two week scenario. That way, if you are able to bring in more, you can easily adjust or pay off some things earlier. You income starts the budget and should be mapped out a few weeks or months at a time so that all of your monthly bills and responsibilities can be covered.
Bills are the next thing to take a look at. What are you responsible for paying out each month? What are the due dates for each? This is important to know for your own records. DO NOT CHEAT YOURSELF by not knowing the exact dates that your bills are due. Are they directly taken out of your account? Do you have to pay with cash or are you able to pay with your debit card or check? These are things that will help you to decide the order in which to pay the bills and GET ORGANIZED! Need an example?
Image from http://www.thebostoncalendar.com
Give yourself time to do this; it takes time to map everything out. Most importantly, figure out whether your lifestyle is more costly than your income? Are you allotted spending money each month? You should NOT have to use your credit cards for spending or else you will NEVER be able to pay them off…NEVER! If your income does not suit your lifestyle, first change your lifestyle, and then prep for a new career, promotion, or some type of additional income (I can help with that!). Numbers do not lie, know your income and your expenses and then plan on using your left over for futuristic items such as an emergency fund or savings account, IRA, or investment opportunities for the future. Are you giving to charities? Would you like to give or give more? You plan to succeed and you will! It takes time and discipline but it is possible no matter the income level.