February is all about Finances, here at ListPlanIt. We want to help you get your budget up and running so that you can accomplish your financial goals in 2015. The first thing to consider is a budget.
A budget is a financial goal-setting tool. Not only does it help you keep track of the necessary bills and expenses that are paid monthly, but it allows you to make a plan for the expenses and bills that are not regularly paid. A budget should be a way of life. There is no use in denying that money is a constant part of everyday. Choices are made based on whether or not there is enough to pay for the needs and/or wants of a single person or an entire family. Without financial goals, it is simply speculation which most often leads to overspending. Take the first steps to gaining control of spending by building a budget that is right for you. Three useful components of a successful budget are a bill schedule, a yearly expenses worksheet, and a page for each fund created from common yearly expenses.
A bill schedule is a place to list the bills that must be paid each and every month. It is important to list the amount due and the date in which the bill should be paid. Paying bills late can mean hefty service fees. Setting up automatic withdrawals is an excellent way to save stamps and checks and make sure that bills are always paid on the day they are due. Another tip is to mark which pay period each bill is set to be paid. It can be a balancing act to try and pay an equal amount of the bills and expenses during each pay period. Then at the beginning of each pay period, simply list all of the bills to be paid and then check them off as they are reflected in your bank’s statement.
The expenses that aren’t necessarily paid each month are not to be forgotten. Gifts are often a huge expense spread throughout a year. It can be very frustrating to buy gifts for a birthday if you have not accounted for gifts in your budget. Auto repairs can be painful if there has been no money set aside for these types of inevitable expenses. Here is a list of yearly expenses that you might benefit from including when building your budget: Auto, Childcare, Clothing, Entertainment, Gifts, Groceries, Holidays, Home, Medical, Personal Care, Projects, Travel, and Utilities (especially for those months with higher heating and cooling) are just to name a few.
A page for each of the above categories of common expenses will allow you to allot a designated amount to each fund in each pay period. Then keep track of all transactions by writing them into the appropriate page. The goal should be to stay within the amounts that you set for yourself. If no money is spent that pay period for a vacation, don’t allow that money to be swallowed up by other things. Leave it in the fund and watch it grow and grow each month. You will find that you are making it possible to do things that require large amounts of money without having to borrow money from a high-interest credit card. Using a cash/envelope system works much the same way.
Begin the process of setting limits on the things in life that are less regular and you will find that those same limits give you a lot more freedom. Paying for your wants and needs feels a lot better when you pay for them with money you have already set aside for that very purpose.
At ListPlanIt.com, you can find hundreds of lists and planning pages including Financial Planning pages to help you put your finances in order including bill schedules, a checking account register, and many pages for tracking your family’s expenses through various funds. Or ListPlanIt‘s Finance ePlanner is a downloadable packet of financial planning pages that you can store on your computer, type into, and print as often as you need!
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