If planning a monthly budget feels like a chore, you are not alone. While many people dread creating a budget, it can be a fun way to see exactly where your money is going. Making a budget allows you to worry less about how you will pay everything and focus more on enjoying your money. By finding creative ways to plan a monthly budget, you can relax more and stress less when it comes to your finances.
Use a Budget App
There are tons of budget apps online that will help you to get your finances on track. The most popular apps allow you to enter your monthly income and balance it with your monthly expenses. You can set savings goals, designate cash for certain funds and get alerts to remind you when bills are due. Many of these apps allow you to link to your bank account, and they can alert you when your account is below a certain amount. You can find both mobile and desktop solutions to help you keep on top of your cash.
Go the Old School Route
For people who choose not to use apps, a pen and paper work just fine. You can use a ledger to enter both debits and credits and track where each penny is going. Reconcile your balances at the end of each month to determine whether you have stayed on track for the month. Writing down your budget items in a notebook or in a ledger will also help you to remember the exact figures you are using to figure out your budget. It can also be helpful for the times when you do not have access to the Internet or your smartphone.
Use the Envelope System
The envelope system makes budgeting simple. With this system, you simply withdraw the cash you need for each budget item and store it in a labeled envelope. When the envelope is empty, you can no longer spend on that budget item. This system works surprisingly well and provides a visual reminder of how much money you have available and how much is left. Many people who struggle with credit card debt find that using this system helps them to keep it under control.
Get the Kids Involved
Getting the kids involved in planning the family budget is not only a great way to teach them about finances, but a good way to keep costs down. If they understand the relationship between income and expenses, they will be less inclined to put unreasonable demands on the household budget. The extent to which the kids are involved with depend heavily on their age. Older children can understand concepts like debt, interest rates and monthly payments. Younger children will benefit from lessons about saving for the future. Sites like feedthepig.org teach kids the value of saving and investing wisely. The site contains helpful lessons on household budgeting.
Make it Automatic
One of the suggestions that the Financial Education and Literacy Commission (mymoney.gov) gives for saving and budgeting is to make the process automatic. Set up automatic withdrawals from your checking account into a savings account on each payday. You’ll quickly adjust to the lowered amount and you won’t have to worry about remembering to save. You can do this through an employer sponsored savings plan or on your own.
Some people create separate accounts for monthly expenses and set up automatic payments from each vendor. This makes paying bills simple and helps you to avoid late fees.
If budgeting is a challenge, there are expert professionals that can help with the task. A credit counselor can help you to get your spending under control and show you how to become free of debt. A financial planner can take a look at your income and expense history and make suggestions about how to make the two balance. There are many personal finance websites run by financial experts that can offer tips on how to create a budget and how to keep the cash flow intact.
When it comes to planning the family budget, there are many ways to make sure the money is on track. From using budgeting apps to getting the kids involved, planning a budget can be both reassuring and fun.