Secrets to Keep Your Budget on Track

By: Andrew Bicknell

Keeping track of our hard earned money is something that a great majority of us have trouble with. It's as if we spend it faster then we make it and by the end of each pay period we are left wondering where it all went. Learning to efficiently manage money is something everyone needs to know, but unfortunately most people are never taught this most valuable of skills.

This is where a budget is most valuable. It gives a starting point in which we can all learn to properly manage our money. Let's look at it this way. Most businesses and corporation have a budget, even the United States government has a "budget" (okay, bad example), but individuals and families seldom follow any sort of budget. In this day of overwhelming debt this is not good.

The first thing you need to do when starting a budget is to set a goal. What do you want your money to do for you? Do you want to get the spending under control? Get out of debt? Save up for a big purchase? Put money into retirement accounts? If you have a specific goal or goals it is much easier to build a budget around that.

Most people who start a budget just want to find out where their money is going. As you list out your expenditures you will begin to see patterns. Some expenses you just have to live with like a mortgage or utility bills. It's when you start looking at all the little expenses and how they add up they don't seem so little anymore.

If you start cutting out some of these smaller daily expenses, like the daily morning coffee for 4$ a pop, you may begin to see that you do indeed have extra money at the end of the month. The point is that it is the small items that add up over time and this is what causes the most financial problems for many people. If you buy that cup of coffee on the way to work everyday that turns out to be $80 a month or $960 a year. Add a few more small regular purchases into that equation and before you know it you are spending thousands of dollars a year on coffee, sodas and other things.

Here's another secret to keeping your budget going. If you are using your budget to help pay off credit card and other debt then list out your debts from smallest to largest. Once you pay all your minimums on all your debts take any extra money that is left over and send it to your smallest debt. Yes, that's right, the smallest one. You'll be amazed at how quickly you pay that one off and it will give you motivation to move to the next one.

Staying motivated is best way to keep using a budget to find that financial freedom you always wanted. After all, it is our behavior with money that causes most of our financial problems in the first place.

Money Management
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