Simple Ways to Improve Your Budget

There are several steps you can take to ensure you are allocating your resources successfully.

Mar 14, 2013

Adhering to a budget can seem constricting and leave you feeling financially strained at the end of the month. However, a good budget is actually liberating, rather than limiting, and should leave you in a better financial position by the month’s end. In many cases, people feel constrained by their budget because they did not construct an effective or realistic money management plan.

To avoid this scenario, there are several steps you can take to ensure you are allocating your resources successfully.

1. Have a Goal in Mind

You may be focused on paying down debt, saving for a vacation or building your nest egg. Outlining your priorities and incorporating them into your budget can help you accomplish your goals more quickly. Account for all of your necessary and fixed expenses first – car payments, housing, insurance, bills, etc. – then focus on variable costs, such as groceries and gas. Once you have accounted for these expenses, determine how you would like to apply the remainder to your various goals. You may decide that paying off debt is more important to you than taking a vacation this winter and therefore you might want to put more toward that goal. You may decide that you want to evenly distribute your remaining funds across several goals.

2. Don't Go It Alone

There are several financial tools you can use to improve your money management. You can find useful budget calculators and spreadsheets through mobile applications, websites and even your financial institution. Utilizing these tools allows you to track your spending and detect areas of your budget that are not working effectively.

3. Give Yourself a Deadline

Failing to put a time limit on reaching your goals can make it easier to slack off when you’re trying to save money. By having a firm date in mind for reaching financial benchmarks, you are likely to stay motivated and avoid behaviors that can endanger your goals. However, it is important to set realistic deadlines for your goals. While setting a date can encourage you to continue saving, unfeasible deadlines can set you up for failure and make accomplishing your aims seem hopeless.

4. Reevaluate Each Month

Sticking to the same budget each and every month can lead to missed opportunities for improvement. Instead, review your money management plan each month and account for changes in your financial situation that may impact your spending. This can include cash windfalls or changes to your goals.

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