In some ways, a budget is like a diet. You may hate sticking to it, but you feel great after you do. Unlike a diet, however, a budget doesn't have to leave you hungry. In fact, with the right moves, you can improve your household finances and still splurge on a few goodies here and there. If your spending is out of control or even if you're comfortable but you feel insecure about your job and the economic outlook- the present is a good time to scrutinize your finances. You will probably be able to save more than you thought. Keep your budget simple to make it work. Stay on task and take one step at a time. Consider it a way to control your small expenses now so that you can reach your goals in the future.
1.Track your spending - It's the only way to get a handle on how much money flies out of your wallet. Ideally keeping tabs for a month would help but 3-6 months of spending is even better. This way you can get those items that you may not have every month. Choose a method that works for you best. Just don't overlook your smaller purchases. Those tall lattes at Starbucks can really add up.
2.Look for Leaks - Start with variable expenses. If you're spending too much on eating out at restaurants, cut out one restaurant meal per week. This could save you more than $100 per month. Maybe you can look at lowering your cell phone plan or removing channels from your cable plan. Every little bit helps to make your budget more comfortable. As you get your finances in order, use your newfound savings to pay down debt, starting with balances that carry the highest interest rate.
3.Set Goals - Once you see where the leaks are, you can set priorities and savings goals and reroute your cash. The golden rule of budget is: Pay yourself first. But avoid borrowing back the money you save to meet expenses. Set targeted goals, such as saving specifically for retirement, college or a house. Always put aside money for an emergency; just in case there is an unexpected medical expense, appliance breakdown or maybe a fender bender.
4.Be Flexible - As you start planning your budget, be sure to give yourself some space for changes. Budgets are meant to be flexible. One can restrict themselves so much that results in frustration and therefore often an impulse purchase - the dieter's equivalent of cheating with an ice cream sundae or banana split. One should probably equate a budget to exercise. No Pain -No Gain.
For more information on JSC Federal Credit Union, or to find out how you can join, please call 281.488.7070 or 800.940.0708, or visit any branch office or e-mail.