Maintaining a household budget is very important. However, it takes more than a budget to manage your finances accordingly. Let’s face it! Most budgets don’t work. The reason behind this is simple. Most budgets concentrate on typical monthly spending ignoring other small but significant expenditures like daily coffee, weekly shopping, annual holiday, etc.
Here’s a great budgeting guide to help you manage every single penny, but first things first.
Why should you budget?
The main reason for budgeting is to ensure you don’t spend more than you earn. You need to determine the amount of money you can afford to spend every month to be able to move ahead financially. Budgeting also helps you find out where your money has been going which is the first step to adjusting your spending habits/priorities.
Typical budgets fail because they underestimate the real expenditure missing costs that have a significant effect. Using broad categories when preparing a budget makes it easy to miss those small expenditures that can add up to large amounts of money every year. For instance, most people usually indicate fuel and service costs when preparing car budget sections. Very few people remember to include insurance, breakdown, and new tyre costs.
Effective household budget planning
Step 1: Gather your latest payslips and find out how much you earn
To create a manageable household budget, you need to know how much you make first. Most people earn less than they think (after tax and other deductions) which creates avenues for overspending. To avoid this, take your payslips for the last three months and establish how much money is deposited into your bank account after all applicable deductions.
Step 2: Gather all your credit card and bank statements
Before you draw up your household budget, it’s also important to get your bank/credit card statements for the last three months. This statements list all direct debits, standing orders and many other expenditures giving you an accurate picture of your spending habits. This step will help you find out how much you spend on every category such as food. Don’t forget to consider every possible expense. You can follow the paper trail to find out your actual expenditure.
Step 3: Determine your income/expenditure patterns
Once you determine how much you make and how much you spend, it’s easy to determine the correct status of your finances. At this stage, it’s extremely important, to be honest with yourself. If you spend more than you earn, you need to take drastic measures to avoid getting into a debt spiral if you are not in one already.
Step 4: Start saving painlessly
If you are spending more than you earn, you need to start cutting back on unnecessary expenses to build your savings account. This should be done painlessly otherwise it won’t work. It’s not advisable to make drastic lifestyle changes. You can start by looking at possible savings on energy bills and credit cards and then move to other saving avenues like childcare. In simple terms, don’t focus on the obvious. There are many ways to save painlessly if you look carefully.
Step 5: Draft a new budget incorporating expected savings
The reason why most initial household budgets don’t serve people well is because they don’t highlight the real income and expenses. After going through step 1 to 3, this should no longer be a problem. Incorporate the new income, expenses and expected savings.
If you need to cut back on your spending, focus on starting small. You can also do less every month and consider selling things you don’t really need until you start living within your means. You should also focus on cutting back on things like magazines, chocolate, cigarettes, alcohol, movies, etc. that aren’t needs.
Important household budgeting facts/tips
1. Self-discipline is key: You can prepare the best budget in the world, however, if you don’t stick to it, you won’t get far.
2. Focus on affordability: To get back on track with your finances, you must focus on the most affordable way of doing something as opposed to the cheapest way. A cheap item can still be too expensive for you, so it’s important to focus on how much you have and then plan your spending around that.
3. Set up different accounts: To budget effectively, it’s important to categorise expenses. Ideally, you need different accounts for different expenses, i.e., a mortgage account, big purchases account, holiday account and a savings/emergency account to avoid missing expenses. Your main bank account should be separate from your bills account. However, pay attention to the charges and open accounts with minimal to no charges.
4. Set up standing orders: To make your budgeting process seamless, it’s important to have standing orders to feed your different accounts. Most people overspend when they see they have a lot of money in their main account when this isn’t the case in reality.
Household budget planning is easy when you have an accurate picture of your income and expenses. Some discipline is also important as well as a seamless/painless process. Luckily, you have all the information you need now to budget successfully going forward. Don’t forget to use budgeting tools/technology to your advantage.