You have sat down and worked out your monthly budget, and for the most part it works quite well. You may not have any issues sticking with the budget categories you have set out, but what does the organization of your budget say about you? Everyone can benefit from stepping back and re-evaluating their monthly budget on occasion to see where improvements can be made and where weaknesses lie. These tips will help you to discover what you are prioritizing each month and how you can redirect some of that money into something more meaningful.
What is Most Important to Your Life?
Most of us are lucky to have a choice in everything we do. A choice of what to study, where to live, who to marry, and what to spend our money on. It is important to remember that you always have the choice to spend money or not to spend money, especially concerning unnecessary purchases such as that latest cell phone model you have been dying to get your hands on. With that in mind, the financial choices you make should focus on the things that are important to your life. If you focus your budget on the things that matter most, rather than making impulse purchases, you will come out happier and with less financial regret.
Re-Prioritizing Your Monthly Budget
Maybe you have always dreamed of travelling the world or putting your child in private education, these types of goals are far from unattainable if you are willing to save and make sacrifices in other places. Make your goal the number one priority by putting it first in your budget after necessary expenses such as bills, retirement, and insurance. Cut away expenses you can live without and shift that money towards what you really want. You may be surprised once you look at where your money has been going to see how much you actually have to work with.
For example: That $3.00 cup of coffee you order every morning on your way to work could add an additional $60 a month or $720 a year toward your goal. Not to say you have to give up your caffeine, but find the things you can live without, and refocus those funds on the things that are most important to your life.
Tools for Planning Your Budget and Sticking to It
Even the most financial savvy individual may need a little help to organize their finances and keep things on track. There are a variety of programs you can use to create a budget that works well with your life and offers the tools to help you succeed in your goals. The easiest method is by creating a budget where you can easily see each category, track your outgoing expenses and monitor your savings. Mint.com offers a fantastic (and free) program that helps you reach those financial goals and monitor your progress along the way, both online and through a mobile app.
If you work better on paper, there are printable budget sheets available online or you can create one yourself on Excel. Pinterest is a great source for finding free budget printables, some of which can be imported into a spreadsheet program and updated monthly.
Your monthly budget shouldn't define who you are, but it should help you to get the most out of your life. Staying out of debt, eliminating problem areas, and saving towards the things that really matter will help you to take control of the future you want.
Jessica Galbraith is a full-time writer and author.