Does it feel like you just cannot seem to live within your financial means? A realistic budget can be the tool you need – but be serious about sticking with it. To create a budget you can live with, make adjustments as you go.
Many financial advisors urge that you “pay yourself” first. When you get your paycheck, immediately put away a predetermined amount in your credit union savings account. (Payroll deduction or direct deposit can make consistent saving easy.) The amount can be as little as $15 or $20 out of each paycheck; the point is to SAVE first. Sooner or later, hard times are likely, and the savings you have put away could be the buffer between you and financial disaster. NEVER skip paying yourself first.
Analyze the things you spend money on. Do a list of essentials and nonessentials. Then get real about where you can cut back. How about all those expensive morning lattes at the coffee stand? Make them at home for a lot less. Books, junk food, magazine subscriptions, extended cable TV – all these things may not seem very expensive individually, but they all add up over time. Choose what you can do without and resolve to apply some self-discipline. Your small sacrifices will pay off and you will be surprised at how much more money you’ll have for essentials!
Don’t deny yourself fun and entertainment, but don’t buy the best seats in the theater or dine at expensive restaurants. What kind of gas mileage does your vehicle get? Perhaps reconsider what you drive, or even how often you drive. Biking to work or school is a lot cheaper! Shop for another phone plan with a less expensive carrier. And, try using coupons when you grocery shop.
Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged and give up. Make adjustments to keep yourself on track. Seek the advice of a financial advisor or your credit union for more budgeting suggestions and for moral support.