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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  How to set up a monthly budget and what does a realistic budget look like?
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How to set up a monthly budget and what does a realistic budget look like?

If you want to make sure you meet your basic expenses and still have money at the end of the month, then you need to make a budget for your expenses. We decode this for you

You need a budget if you want to keep track of your spending and reach your financial goals. (Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)Premium
You need a budget if you want to keep track of your spending and reach your financial goals. (Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

You need a budget if you want to keep track of your spending and reach your financial goals. It is a summary of your revenue and expenses for a specific period of time, usually one month. However, a budget does not have to be restrictive to be effective.

To determine how much money you expect to bring in, create a budget that includes both essential expenses and discretionary expenses. Consider a budget as an aid to reaching your financial goals instead of a hindrance.

What does a budget do?

As a financial planning tool, a well written, monthly budget allows you to manage your regular expenses and savings. It also allows you to keep track of your purchasing patterns, which is quite useful.

It may not be the most thrilling activity and for some, it's downright terrifying, but creating a budget is an essential aspect of keeping your finances in line. That's because budgets rely on a certain amount of balance to function properly. Saving less in one area means you can spend more in another.

A budget only works if you are honest about both your income and expenses. Ultimately, the result of your new budget will show you where your money is coming from, how much is there, and where it all goes each month.

How to make a budget?

It's important to obtain a clear grasp on your present spending, what you can comfortably afford to spend, and what your goals are in order to develop a budget that works.

Here are some steps through which one can create an effective budget:

Compile your Financial Records

Gather all of your financial statements before you begin, including-

  • Bank statements
  • Investment accounts
  • Recent utility bills
  • Credit card bills
  • Receipts from the last three months
  • Mortgage or auto loan statements

You want to be able to see all of your revenue and expense details. Monthly averages are essential to budgeting. You want to find out as much as you can.

Calculate your Income

On average, how much money can you expect to make per month? It's permissible to use the net income amount if you receive a regular paycheck where taxes are routinely deducted. 

Do not forget to include your self-employment or any other outside sources of income, such as child support or social security. This entire income should be recorded as a monthly sum.

Make a list of all your monthly bills

Make a list of all the expenses you estimate to incur in a given month and keep it handy. Spending can be tracked using bank records, receipts, and credit card statements from the past three months.

Calculate the fixed and variable costs

The term "fixed expenses" refers to expenses that you must pay on a regular basis. Expenses such as mortgage or rent, car payments, internet subscription with a predetermined charge, trash pickup, and regular daycare should be included. Variable expenses include things like groceries, gifts, etc.

Put a value on each category starting with fixed expenses. Calculate your monthly variable expenses by multiplying your income by the number of months you'll be working.

Totalize your monthly income and expenses

As long as your income exceeds your expenses, you're on the right track to financial success. If you have excess money, you can use it towards saving for retirement or paying off debt. Overspending occurs when your expenses exceed your income, indicating that you need to make some changes.

Make adjustments to expenses

If your expenses exceed your income, look for ways to reduce your variable expenses. Reduce your spending in certain areas, such as dining out, or eliminate a category, such as your gym subscription. Aim for equal columns for revenue and expenses. All of your money has been allocated towards certain spending or savings goals when you have an equal balance.

There are plenty of budgeting apps out there that can help you with your daily budget, let’s discuss a few.

You need a budget (YNAB)

Your bank accounts can be synced, data may be imported from a file, or transactions can be entered manually. A video course or a live workshop are recommended to master the basics of the app. In contrast to some of its competitors, YNAB takes a proactive approach to the budget, rather than tracking what you have previously spent.

Mint

When you use Mint, you can keep track of all of your accounts in one spot and maintain tabs on your spending. So that you can quickly see the totals for each category, the software automatically categorises your purchases. Monthly bill tracking is also available through Mint, along with payment reminders to minimise late fines. 

In addition to tracking your investments, the app allows you to keep track of your portfolio expenses. Mint offers a few educational features, such as a house affordability calculator, a loan payback calculator, and a blog on personal finance issues.

Simplifi by quicken

The app's custom watchlists are a noteworthy feature, allowing you to limit spending by category or payee. To ensure that you never spend more than you earn, the personalised spending plan keeps an eye on your cash flow. Although Simplifi offers recommendations while using the app, there is also a blog with tonnes of instructional content.

Circumstances can change at any time. Changes in employment, relocation or the birth of a kid cause us to reevaluate our goals. Each month, schedule a time to sit down with your budget to make sure your current goals and reality are being met. Keep in mind that your budget should work for you, not the other way around!

No money left at the end of the month? Here's how you can manage your budget
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No money left at the end of the month? Here's how you can manage your budget

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Published: 14 Feb 2022, 12:20 PM IST
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