How to Make a Budget Work?

stick to budget

 

One of the biggest problems families and especially singles have is how to manage their money. This really has nothing to do with income level, because the more we make, the more we tend to spend and thus, the more we get into debt and trouble. The cycle can be endless. However, with just a few tips and the determination to make a budget (see our article on how to too) and the discipline to keep it, you will have the funds. All because you are telling your money what to do and where to go instead of being dictated by whim and desire which will rob you and your family’s future. Yes, you can save enough to retire comfortably if you are willing to start as early as possible to make a budget and then stick to it.

It is all about creating healthy habits with savings, while changing your bad habits about overspending.

I will not lie to you; this is hard. The theory is easy, just one short sentence: Save more and spend less. Yet, our world’s offerings and pleasures which are very temporary will distract us away from a good and godly plan. So, we must be willing to change our lifestyle, so we can put money away for the things that will matter the most. Instead of spending on what is fleeting, and you will not even remember.

We need money to live; so, what do we do?

  • Keep a log of your spending and ask yourself, do I really need that, or do I just want it? What are you wasting your money on? Review your log and see what can be cut or cut back on. Also, carefully read your credit card and back statements too. This is the easiest way to see where your money goes and where to budget.
  • You do not need a new car every few years, if you buy a good reliable one like a Honda or Toyota and keep it for years with proper maintenance. You will save over $100,000+ every ten years doing that! See our article on how to buy a car. This alone pays for retirement if that money is diverted into an Indexed Annuity!
  • Have an allowance. After making a budget, what do you have to spend on incidentals, groceries, gas and such. This is where most money flies away because we do not stick to a budget on the small things.
  • Leave your credit cards at home, unless you pay them off each month. Even so, it is too easy to overspend with them. Best save them for emergencies.
  • You do not need the coffee joint every day, make your own. I use a French press and my coffee or green tea is better than the big coffee places for less than 10% of the cost. You will save $150 to over $300 each month.
  • Brown bag your lunch, this will save you $200 to over $500+ a month!
  • Eat out less. Save the restaurants for a once a week treat and do not over do it. This can save you more than $500 a month!
  • Have good medical insurance. Like Aetna HMO or Kaiser HMO, they take better care of you than the others, even PPO’s, usually for less (I am a licensed health insurance agent too and know the players). Because I have seen a single medical bill destroy countless families, even myself before I know how it worked. And such a debt that can never be discharged and will haunt us for the rest of our lives.
  • Take advantage of automatic bill pay. Yes, we still need to use banks, but use them wisely. Follow your budget and make sure your bills are paid on time, so you do not have lots of fees and late charges. This really adds up fast.
  • Set up a retirement savings account and have it deducted automatically at each pay period. Then take the money every month or two and place it into a S&P 500 Index Fund and watch it grow better than an IRA or 401(k). And better yet, I can place it into a tax-free plan for you!
  • Make sure you are creating an emergency fund that covers at least two-months of your rent or mortgage. This has to be budgeted! Take a percentage of each pay period. Then when you have your emergency fund, take that percent and put it into your retirement.
  • Automate retirement, especially your employer contributions to your 401(k). And contribute the max every year to your Roth IRA. The current annual limit is $5,500, or $6,500 for 50 and over. By the way, I work with companies that have plans that are better than what you may get from your employer. Those plans benefit the employer, not the employee.
  • Pay off debt. Make sure you are paying off your credit card debt!
  • Make and stick to a grocery list. This is where I found I was spending too much money on recently. Most of what we buy we do not need.
  • Do you have a budget? This is our number one goal, as two-thirds of adults do not have one at all.
  • There is an app for that. There are apps that track your spending like Pennies or Mint. Take advantage of financial apps like Acorns, that helps you invest your “spare change” or see me, I have better tools. I have heard that Betterment and Personal Capital are good too, although I have not used them yet.
  • Remember, every bit helps, if you get into the good habits and avoid the traps.
  • Do not forget to reward yourself. You deserve a prize or sticking to the plan, enjoy life but do not be foolish.

Start making the changes, make your budget and get yourself and family onto the path of financial freedom. And also realize any real success does not to happen overnight, this is the long game that will serve you will. If you live in Southern California, let me know how I can help you!

 

Dr. Richard Krejcir is a licensed and experienced Financial Consultant with over thirty years of experience. He has worked for major banks, insurance companies, nonprofits, and families too. He is also an author, pastor, Special Ed Teacher, and financial blogger and holds a doctorate in Stewardship.

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