If you’re new to budgeting, you’re probably wondering where to start. That’s easy, you should start by looking at your typical monthly expenses and create a master list of every expense. Budgeting can be overwhelming, but if you take simple steps and start with a list of your expenses, you’re much more likely to have a more comprehensive and accurate budget model.
Think back to your very first pay cheque – paper route money, babysitting income or a cheque from a part–time job. Did it come with instructions? Instructions seem to be included with the simplest devices these days, and yet, with something as important as our pay cheques, we’re left to figure it out on our own. No one is born with money management skills. By the time we’re adults, we are expected to be able to manage our money effectively; however few of us are taught how. Therefore, many people experience the usual emotions that occur when they don’t know how to do something well. These may include:
Like driving a car or playing an instrument, the skill of managing money must be learned – and it’s never too late to start! Doing so usually pays immediate benefits. People might not earn more money if they budget well, but they will be able to use the money they do have wisely.
Someone who manages their finances responsibly has peace of mind and knows how to:
- Pay their living expenses
- Keep debts to a manageable level
- Save for the extras that make life enjoyable
- Avoid constant money anxiety
It’s not how much you make, but what you do with what you’ve got. Proper money management does not involve a magic formula to find more money. It simply means getting the most from the money you do have.
Before you read any further, take a quick look at your current money management skill level. Answer the following questions truthfully, based on what you do today. Ask yourself how much effort do you put in managing your own money? Do you keep track of what you spent in a day, week, or month? How many times do you regret spending so much money on something that will benefit you so little? You do not need to share your answers with anyone – they are merely to help you identify how you may want to improve your own money management skills.
The foundation of sound money management is the budget. However, for many people, the word “budget” evokes feelings of fear or frustration. Your budget is your plan for your money. It is based on choices you make and priorities that you identify.