The best way to take control of your finances is to do a budget. This is a simple tool that helps you understand the money going in and out of your household. Here’s what experts say about how to detoxify your budget and put your money to work for you.
Lynnae McCoy, beingfrugal.net
If you’re really organized, you can look back at your expenses for six months to a year, but I’m going to assume you’re organizationally challenged like I am. 🙂 For one month, you need to record every transaction that you make with your money. Carry a notebook. Save receipts. Write down where every penny goes.
Karen Lee, Karen Lee and Associates, LLC
Create an organizational chart by starting out with three columns: necessity, necessity with wiggle room and discretionary (expenses you want to make). Then, organize each item of your budget into one of the columns listed. Examples are rent, mortgage or car payments under necessities. These items are fixed and inflexible. Utilities and food would go under column two. You need them to live, but you can try to reduce these expenses.
Jillian Kramer, Glamour,
Look at the whole pie—not just a slice.When you first start to budget, it’s likely you don’t know exactly where you money goes—and finding out how much you spend (and waste) can be a painful process. But when you work to establish a budget, “you really need to rip off the Band-Aid and make sure you’re working with all of your numbers,” says von Tobel. To make sure you’ve got a complete picture of your cash, accounts, and bills, von Tobel suggests asking questions such as, “How much actually hits your bank each month, after taxes? What are your recurring fixed expenses? What do I want to contribute to each of my goals?”
Erica Gellerman, The Every Girl
Know where your money goes:
Before you can create a budget, you need to understand where your money is currently going. For most people this is the hardest but most rewarding part. If you use Minted or another budgeting program, download your spending from the past three months. If you don’t use a budgeting program you’ll have a little more legwork, but it’s worth it.
Carrie Smith Nicholson, Careful Cents
Start by listing everything you spent money on in the past 3 months. This might take a little bit of extra time, but only writing down expenses and income from one month ago, won’t give you the entire picture. You may forget transactions that only happen on a quarterly basis, like getting your car’s oil changed, or income bonuses at work.
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