The truth about budgeting is that it’s hard work. You think: “Why can’t I just have everything I want all the time?” Maybe you don’t even want luxury items or super expensive clothes and stuff like that, you simply want to go out to eat a bit more often and get a great Starbucks coffee every other day. The answer is simple: You can’t have everything you want when you want it because you need to pay off your student loans and maybe retire before you’re eighty. Budgeting means giving up things that you like in the present so that you can have what you want in the future. Whatever your reason for budgeting and saving your money, it is going to make the present a little less enjoyable for you, but your future will be much more exciting.
Another truth about budgeting is that it doesn’t work unless you make it work, which means if you don’t personalize your budget and have a plan you will not be a very successful budgeter – you can’t just print off a budget plan from the internet, you have to use the internet as a resource to create your own. To be a successful budgeter, you have to really know yourself or give yourself a trial period to see what works for you. The best place to begin is to record your spending for a period of time. You should probably start with at least a week and continue meticulously recording your spending for up to a month (any longer and you will just get bored). When your recording period is over, sit down with your notes and add up where your money is going. Look at what categories take up the most of your money; do you throw it away at Starbucks? Do you grocery shop too often? Do you make too many Target trips in a week? Find out where your money is actually going.
Once you know where your money actually goes every month or week or other period of time, you can effectively start limiting your spending in certain areas to free up money for saving or spending in another area. Looking at your spending data you will probably realize that you are overspending on something that you hadn’t really thought of. For example, you might see that you are spending upwards of one hundred dollars a month on your special eat-out Fridays. That is a perfect place to save money, because although you might think that you need to go out to eat at least once a week, there is a guaranteed chance that you will be just fine if you limit your consumption from once a week to once a month.
Overall, a budget is a commitment. Like anything you commit to, it has to fit your lifestyle and your needs. Once you have a dynamic budget that works for you, you start to worry less and enjoy life more – in the long run too, which is the important part of creating a budget.