Even if you’re able to earn enough money to pay all of your monthly debts and cover all necessities like food, a budget can help you quickly see which expenses are non-negotiable and which ones are discretionary. Furthermore, creating a budget will help remind you to put at least a little money aside each month into a savings account – so you'll be better prepared to handle all of the unexpected expenses that regularly fall into everyone's life.
Here are some important reminders to help you create the most useful budget for your needs. Of course, should your earnings increase or decrease – you can always adjust your budget to properly address such changes.
Helpful Guidelines for Creating a Monthly Budget
- Start out by listing your major, nonnegotiable expenses first. This usually means you must start with your mortgage or rent fees, followed by what you normally spend on: monthly food expenses, car payments, credit card debts and similar expenses;
- Give serious thought to creating a second list – one which names all of your discretionary bills and the monthly minimum you’re required to pay on each one. On this second list, note the higher amounts you'd like to pay on various bills, if possible – and clearly state how much money you’ll definitely add to your savings account each month;
- Arrive at a basic estimate of how much it costs you to make payments on all of your nonnegotiable and discretionary bills. Be sure to add your basic food and other monthly expenses. Hopefully, you’ll discover some “extra” funds you can earmark for both your savings account and discretionary/pleasure spending;
- Review your checkbook ledger if you still use one – or carefully examine all of your most recent credit card bills (and/or debit card transactions listed in your bank checking account’s monthly statement). Force yourself to clearly note where you may be wasting money each month – and how you can decrease your spending;
- Should you discover a fairly large amount of surplus income requiring new careful investments – be sure to speak with a qualified financial planner and your banker;
- Make sure your savings account is large enough to cover all kinds of family emergencies and unexpected medical expenses. Keep in mind that most financial planners tell people to keep at least enough money in their savings accounts (and short-term investments) to cover six months of normal living expenses. Serious illnesses and unemployment often occur in many lives. You need a financial safety net;
- If your budget reveals you aren’t making enough money to cover your monthly debts – look for areas where you can cut back -- and consider whether you should obtain a second job.
If you believe that you’re a victim of any abusive debt collection practices, contact the Law Offices of Georgia consumer protection attorney Shane Smith so that you can learn more about your rights under federal and state consumer protection statutes. Call (770) 487-8999 today to schedule your free initial consultation.