It may sound simple but the basic rule of budgeting is:
INCOME AND EXPENSES MUST BE EQUAL
If your expenses are more than your income, you will ultimately be juggling your bills and/or relying on credit to supplement your income. This can create a downward spiral with your financial situation. Like anything else in life, budgeting and money management require practice.
The first step is to create a budget, which is simply a list of your monthly expenses. Below is an example of an expense form that you can use. (Please note: If attending a Credit Counselling session, please print this page and fill out the form to bring with you.)
Once you total your expenses, compare the figure with your income. If you are in a deficit, you will need to readjust some figures until the income and expenses balance. When making adjustments, you may need to prioritize your expenses and consider what is a want vs. need.
The next step is to track your spending and try to stay within the amounts you listed on your expense sheet. Remember: It is your budget, so make changes when necessary.
If you attend a budgeting session at Credit Counselling, your counsellor can assist you further by: reviewing your current situation, making suggestions for changes to your budget, planning for the future, setting financial goals, discussing methods for tracking spending, developing a savings plan, and reviewing how to use credit wisely. Every appointment is individualized to suit your needs and goals.
BUDGETING & MONEY MANAGEMENT TIPS:
- TRACK your spending so you will know if you are following your budget. Carry a notepad to record each expenditure (how much you spent and on what) and/or keep your receipts.
- Use a SAVINGS account to save for irregular expenses such as clothing, gifts, and car maintenance.
- DEPOSIT money on a regular basis into your savings account. Calculate what you would spend a year on irregular expenses and divide it out over the year.
- If you receive irregular/unpredictable income such as bonuses or GST cheques, they can be put into your savings account for EXTRA savings.
- Leave the PLASTIC (i.e. credit cards) at home. This will give you time to think about whether the purchase is worth it.
- EVALUATE your progress. Budgeting may take practice and you may need to make some adjustments before you find a method that works for you.