For most people, the “B” word, budget, usually suggests a strict adherence to spending a designated amount of money on a monthly basis. In other cases, being on a budget represents a sacrificial lifestyle. In either case, maintaining a budget is viewed as rigid and simply boring. It’s regarded as a spending lifestyle that has no spontaneity or planned fun in it.
That’s not always the case—we should also take into account putting money aside for events or opportunities that don’t happen regularly. This will help us be prepared to see a local band or attend an art show when the occasion arises.
These beliefs about budgeting are often changed when we make an honest assessment of the following three areas of our lives:
- What does it take to support my lifestyle?
- What are my “triggers” that result in unplanned purchases?
- Am I allotting for survival expenses before assuming additional debt?
What does it take to support my lifestyle?
Many individuals do not realize how much money they spend in the course of a week or month. Given the speed of making transactions with debit and credit cards, spending money just does not feel the same as when the actual dollars and coins are visible.
To be able to identify the amount of money it takes to support our lifestyle, we should take a look at what we spent over the past two months. If that period of time represents how you would normally spend money, it will give us a good look at what our financial lifestyle really is.
What are my “triggers” that result in unplanned purchases?
Next, we look for unplanned or compulsive spending. In doing so, we want to identify the “triggers” that prompted this behavior.
This type ofspending usually has little to nothing to do with what we purchased. In most instances, we make these purchases because we were “too” something.
Being too stressed, hungry, tired or even sad. All of these emotions can result in compulsive behavior. Being aware of our emotions or moods can help us from acting on these impulses.
Am I allotting for survival expenses before assuming additional debt?
Finally, prioritizing our monthly expenses helps us to not have “more bills than money.”
Before we take on additional monthly debt, a careful evaluation of spending for food, clothing, shelter, utilities and transportation should be done.
Credit applications do not ask us the amount we spend for these items. But, for us to make wise financial budgetary decisions, we need to calculate our survival expenses.
Maintaining a budget or spending plan is a great way to take control of our lives. Reviewing the plan regularly will help us make changes to our lifestyle, as needed.
Do you need help maintaining a budget or creating a spending plan? Visit our website to get started today.
Lynn is certified through the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors and the Credit Union National Association as a Certified Financial Counselor. She has assisted countless members with understanding credit, managing budgets, and guiding them to financial success.