Starting a Budget
Budgeting means making a plan for your money. It’s taking a deep, honest look at your spending habits and earnings, and figuring out how much money you need. It’s an effective way to manage money and take more control of your future.
Why a budget?
Budgets are tools you can use to help achieve your goals. Say you’re ready to stop riding the bus and want to own a car – you’d probably want to start saving money for a down payment. But how might that affect all your other expenses? Will you have to cut back on other costs? A budget can tell you.
A+ Tip: Affinity Plus member advisors work one-on-one with our members to guide them through an individualized budget – at no charge! Contact us to learn how.
Deciding to build a budget is a good start. Now what? It’s time to sit down – if you are part of a partnership, sit down together – and look at your numbers. Where should your money go?
Start with the most important categories
- Basic needs
- Basic clothing
This is also a good time to start building emergency funds in a savings account, so consider adding that to your basic needs list.
Choose Your Plan
Pick a budgeting plan that’s right for you. Some popular examples are zero-based budgeting (where your monthly income and expenses match exactly) and envelope budgeting (where you divide up cash for different categories).
Needs vs. Wants
Your budget should cover all your needs, and can include some of your wants, like a new car. Having a financial goal can help you focus your budgeting, and budgeting can help you achieve that financial goal.
Remember that not all months are the same when it comes to expenses. Looking over your budget at the start of each month can help keep you on track.
One Size Doesn't Fit All
Budgeting can be difficult when you start out, and you might not get it right immediately. That’s normal! It usually takes a few months to figure out an effective system and to get comfortable with money management.
It’s also important to remember that this is your life and finances, and comparisons can be a thief of joy. They can also take your money – be sure to make a budget that’s right for you and your situation.
A+ Tip: Revisit your budget often. Your life and your priorities are bound to change – and your budget should change accordingly.