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Four Step Budget - Keep It Simple to Keep It Workable

Have you ever created, and then tried to live on a budget?  If so, you have probably experienced a lot of frustration when it just didn’t pan out.  It’s a fact that 70 percent of all Americans live week to week and don’t have a savings account.  But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Instead, if you make a true commitment to yourself that you will create a workable budget, and then stick to it, you could find yourself living with a lot less financial stress.  Here are four great steps to get you started on a budget that will work for you.

Step One:  Put It In Writing!

You have to write down your budget.  Many people believe that they know approximately how much they have coming in, and more or less what their monthly expenses are, so they’ve got a budget.  Wrong!  A budget is a complete plan that includes spending records for the past three months, estimated income (in the case of the self-employed for commissions worker), actual income, and projected spending and out-of-the ordinary expenses.  All of this needs to be written down in an easy-to-reference manner that will allow you to know where you are financially at a glance. 

It would quite simply be impossible to keep all of this in your head!  Buy a notebook (or, for budget purposes use one that you already have!) and start to keep a record of your expenses, and then once you have created a plan—write it down.

Step Two: Call A Meeting

Even if you are the only person in the household who is charge of the money, if everyone isn’t privy to the budget and doesn’t know what to expect, it will make the process much more difficult.

A great way to get everyone on board is to call a family meeting.  If you are married, then the budget should be joint effort and you should work together as partners.  If your children are of school age, then you should explain what it will mean to them.   For example, if you daughter is used to going to a movie with her friends every Friday, and you intend to cut it down to every other week, then explain it to her so that she’ll know what to expect.

Step Three: Do It In Advance

Don’t wait to create your budget until you are in crisis mode.  Instead, sit down at the beginning of every month and write down exactly what your incoming money will be, and then plan for your expenses.  Don’t worry about creating a budget for the next year—those are never realistic and will only add to your frustration!  Do it month by month, and always look at the past month as not only a guideline, but also for ways that you may improve your budget.

Step Four: Don’t Make It Too Complicated!

One reason that many budgets fail is because they’re simply too complicated!  But by keeping it simple, you’ll not only have a better chance of success, but you’ll also be able to create your budget in no time every month.  Two columns: one incoming and one outgoing—it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that!