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How to Make a Budget

How to Make a Budget

Making a budget for your yourself or your household is more about the commitment to improving your finances than it is about actually sitting down and writing out your family budget.  In fact, it is more about having the will to save money, or should I say having the will power not to spend it.

With that said, budgeting is an important part of learning how to better manage your money.  If you’re serious about improving your finances, then here are some steps you can take to help you make a budget and improve your finances.

Manage Your Bills.  One of the most important parts of managing your money is to manage your bills.  Make sure that you have a good grasp of when your bills come in and don’t just pay them without first making sure they are accurate and that you have done your best to reduce each bill.  Sometimes picking up the phone and asking for a better rate can reduce your bills, especially for services like television, phone or internet bills.  For me, I created a checking spreadsheet that I have used for years to manage my monthly bills and to keep my finances organized and up to date.

Find Ways to Save Money.  Once you’ve got your bills under control its time to find some creative ways to save some money.  Literally, there is no end to how much money you can save over the long run if you keep finding new and creative ways to save.  If you’re willing to make lifestyle changes to save money, there are even more options to save.  Note that many methods take months to start saving you money, so get started today.

help making a budgetUse a Budget Worksheet.  Once you’ve made some decisions about how to spend your money more wisely, it’s time to find some budgeting tools to help you record and track your monthly budget.  Of course, we offer a free budget worksheet that you can use, but we also list several other top household budget worksheets that may work just as well for you.  Download whichever copy you like the most and start using it.  Remember that with a little spreadsheet skill, you can really turn any spreadsheet into your own personalized budget.

If you don’t like using spreadsheets, don’t worry, there are lots of budget tools and free budgeting software that you can also try.  Although software is less flexible, a lot of it is automated and if used properly can save you some time gathering your budget information each month.

Keep At It.  Just like any excercise or diet program, you have to stick to your budget program.  Use your spreadsheet or software to help you track your spending and to look for new opportunities to save money.  Over the months, you’ll find that your finances will continue to improve.  It’s important that you don’t give up, especially if you have a bad money month or two.  Keep the faith and you can stay motivated to improve your finances!

Do you have any advice to add?  If so leave us a comment.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Ciles September 24, 2012, 5:28 pm

    I always love reading other people’s opinions on the best way to budget and stick to it!

    I know personally, my husband and I have really struggled with finding the best way to budget and stick to it. We have finally learned that the best thing is to create a budget where every cent is accounted for and going to something! This ensures that we are not using money just because its there and not assigned to a specific bill.

    Now, I just have to avoid the mall!

    Reply
  • Orange Julibee October 1, 2012, 7:59 am

    Sticking to a budget can be difficult. I can come up with a good plan, but staying with it is another matter.

    At one point, I used a ledger book to track every penny I spent, even on simple things like a soda and newspaper from the gas station. It can a bit time-consuming, but being able to go back and see where I was spending my money helped me to see where I could curb excess spending. I think I will try that again. It did really work.

    If only I could stay away from Amazon! That’s my big budget killer. It’s just so convenient to shop online, but it’s a budget killer.

    Reply
  • ChristiQ October 1, 2012, 11:02 am

    Thanks for the links to the free budget worksheets. I have one I created myself in a spreadsheet, but I would like a more detailed, more long run budget worksheet. Having everything in a spreadsheet really does help. It totals up everything for you, if you set it up to do so. (Just make sure you have all the rows/columns needed to get your accurate total. A little tip there from personal experience. lol) I didn’t know how to use a spreadsheet before I started making our budget, but I learned through a little googling and using the help guide. Now I use spreadsheets for everything — planning parties, Christmas lists, shopping lists, planning vacations, and more.

    The best advice on your list is the last one: stick with it. Doing the budget and paying the bills is not fun. But, having the money when you need it because you budgeted correctly is a BIG reward.

    Reply
  • sdjaxson October 1, 2012, 5:15 pm

    I love this article. So inspiring. My life seriously changed when I made up my mind I needed to live by a budget. We are on the road to being debt free. Its been a hard journey but without the budget goals we would not have any success at all with it.

    Reply
  • L J October 4, 2012, 11:04 pm

    Thanks for the links to budget worksheets! We are pretty good with our finances, and we have eliminated most unnecessary spending from our lives, but we have had a heck of a time figuring out the best way to do a written budget! Its just difficult to know where to start, and some of them are so complicated.

    I checked out your links already and I found two that look like they might be a good fit for our situation. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • riccig123 October 15, 2012, 2:37 pm

    The absolute hardest part (for me) about making a budget was figuring out where all of our money went. I finally enlisted the shoe-box method and made my husband empty his pockets into a shoe-box on the kitchen table for an entire month. Keeping our receipts and adding up what we spend on various items at the end of the month really helped to open our eyes to where all of our money was going.

    After that, I set up an excel file that is arranged by week and has which bills and expenses are due in each week. I input the amount we get paid that week and excel lets me know how much money is left over after all the bills are paid (it’s never very much). This absolutely helps us to reign in our spending. I love knowing exactly how much “fun money” we have for a given week. It really helps us to stick to our budget and stay on track!

    Reply
  • Lloyd October 18, 2012, 4:51 am

    I use mint.com to help with my budgeting you may want to look into it for a future post idea! I try to limit my spending now as funds are a little bit tighter than they were a year ago but im surprisingly more happy now!

    Reply
  • MistyR. October 22, 2012, 6:12 pm

    Does it scare you how many people dont use an actual budget? I am in the process of getting my Mom, the banker, on a real budget. So many people just spend the money until its gone and then its time to stop. I love to control my budget instead of my money controlling me.

    We created an excell file and filled in all of our bills. Everything that was left over was spread between the bills we had control over. For our debt we prefer the snowball method and saddly to say we are still rolling but also still in debt. I cant wait until that day I can say that we are debt free. We are only on a path to being debt free because we are on a budget.

    Reply
  • lorien October 25, 2012, 6:55 pm

    Great advise! My husband and I created an expense worksheet that included every type of expense including groceries, insurance, utilities, credit card bills and so on. Then we set a monthly budget and except for unexpected emergencies, the amount allotted was what we had to work with. Our goal over time was to find ways to reduce the cost of expenses where possible, such and credit card bills, insurance and utilities. We regularly revisit the worksheet to reformulate it based on savings we had found or sometimes a new monthly expense such as a new pet.

    Reply
  • Herewegrow October 27, 2012, 8:46 pm

    Great article and just in time for the holidays. I have been without work since July and have needed to learn how to budget what little money I do have and this article was very helpful. I will be sure to use some of the ideas explained here to “tighten my belt”.

    Reply

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