Getting Your Budget in Order

Time to put that credit card away and start spending wiser! The new year is a perfect time to get your budget in order and finish out 2016 strong. If you had some less than wise spending habits throughout the holiday season and last year, here’s exactly what you need to do:

  1. Make a plan.

This is the most important and often overlooked aspect of getting your budget together. You need a plan, and it shouldn’t just be to have money left over in your account when the calendar changes to the next month. A plan will help you understand why you need to spend less and save more. What are you trying to accomplish with your new plan? Pay down debt? Save for a vacation? Buy a new car? Plan it so you can make it happen.

  1. Face your debts.

This is another overlooked part of budgeting because for some it’s simply too painful. Face the facts. How much do you really owe? Write it down in one big number and then prioritize your debts. What needs to be paid first? Focus on the debts that are directly related to how you live and work – your mortgage, auto loan and the like. If these don’t get paid first, it’s a problem. Then focus on paying down higher interest loans, credit cards and other debts. Consider using a snowball payment method to get more paid off and end the year stronger.

  1. Make yourself use cash for new purchases.

Debit cards and mobile payments make it easier than ever to spend money – and that’s a bad thing! Carrying around a set amount of cash for your spending like groceries, gas and extras will help you keep your spending under control. Unlike electronic payment methods, it’s easier to see exactly how much you have left to spend. You’ll also avoid high interest charges and other fees related to spending with credit cards. Figure out your weekly spending budget, and then take out that amount of money for your expenses. This approach will help you realize how much you’re actually spending, and control your buying as well.