Making a Budget and Sticking To It

November 19, 2018
By Belinda L Landry

Making and sticking to a budget is a key step to getting a handle on your debt and working towards your financial wellness goals.

Making a Budget:

Let’s say you want to save up for a down payment on a home, a vacation, or to build your own emergency savings fund. Until you understand how much you have and where it’s going each month, it’s difficult to ensure you have enough left over to save for your goals.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has developed this budget worksheet that let’s you see how much you make and spend each month. Here are a few ways this resource works:

  • Enables you to analyze your spending habits
  • Helps you look for areas where you can cut back
  • Allows you to create your own budget to see where you’ll stand each month

Creating a budget will help you determine if you have enough money to cover your needs and obligations, while also having enough to save or spend on something extra you may want for yourself or your family. If you experience a change in employment, income, or spending habits, it’s important to also update your budget to reflect these changes.

Sticking to Your Budget

Cutting back on fixed expenses, like housing or car payments, could potentially require major changes such as moving to somewhere more affordable or selling a car. You can also consider refinancing your house or car payment at a lower interest rate in order to save more money. However, there may be other areas that are more manageable.

For example, if you spend $350 per month on groceries, you might decide to buy food in bulk to decrease the amount you spend on groceries to $300. Once you find ways to cut on spending, put these new target spending levels into your budget.

You’re not alone if you struggle with impulse buying. Here are some ways to help rein in impulse spending:

Set a weekly spending limit for small purchases. Consider setting aside cash for these purchases at the beginning of the week. When you’re out of cash, you know you’ve used up your budget.
Check your balances before going shopping and set a spending limit based on your budget.
Compare your actual spending to your budget on a regular basis. Make adjustments to your budget if needed.

Remember, making and sticking to a budget can help put you one step closer to reaching your goals!

This content is for informational purposes only. Readers should under no circumstances rely upon this information as a substitute for their own research or for obtaining specific advice from their own counsel.