Millions of people live from paycheck to paycheck in our country. They have enough monthly income to pay for such necessities as rent, utility bills, groceries, health insurance, and debt repayment.
Yet, many consumers don’t have enough funds and often fall into a vicious debt cycle without having any funds left for their planned expenses. Is there a solution? Yes, you need to learn how to budget. Here is why you need to have a budget and what you should do to find the best budgeting strategy for you.
The Importance of Budgeting
Thousands of people take out personal loans and other unsecured types of debt to cover their immediate costs and unforeseen expenses. It is rather common to have some debt for many people as you may have also had a thought like “I need a loan urgently” at least once in your life, and requested monetary assistance. At the end of the month, you may have paid down your bills and rent, covered the loan payments and mortgage, bought groceries, and bought some gas for your auto.
Some cash may be left for your savings account and a retirement fund. Here is what you need to do in order to budget and live a comfortable life while being able to meet your long-term financial goals.
The past two years were rather challenging for people all over the world. While millions of people experienced a sudden financial shortfall in 2020, the next year didn’t become easier for Americans. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the total household debt boosted by $286 billion to $15,24 trillion in the third quarter of 2021.
This balance is significantly higher compared to the data shown in 2019. What does all of this debt comprise? It consists of different types of debt such as a mortgage, credit card balance, and personal loans.
The Best Budgeting Strategies
Here are the top-rated methods of learning how to budget and improve your expenses. Review the options and consider the following strategies before you make your choice.
1. 50/30/20 Budgeting Rule
This is one of the most popular strategies for budgeting. It is based on the consumer’s needs, savings, and desires. The main aim of this method is to determine what you need to spend your income on, what you want to purchase, and how much you need to allocate toward savings. Once you define your needs, wants, and savings goals you will be able to contribute to each of these categories.
Experts suggest that a person should spend 50% of his monthly income on non-negotiable costs such as rent or mortgage, utility bills, groceries, and debt repayment. It’s essential to leave debt payments in this category of necessities. If you postpone making on-time loans or credit card payments, your debt may pile up and make it impossible for you to contribute to your savings account or retirement fund.
Another 30% of your income should go toward your personal costs or wants. This sum should include entertainment, travel expenses, and eating out. The rest 20% of your monthly income should go to your retirement fund and emergency savings. More than that, everything that exceeds the minimum credit card or loan payments can go in this category as well.
2. Envelope Budget
This is another widespread budgeting strategy for consumers who want to keep track of their expenses and improve their spending habits. The name of this method speaks for itself. You should divide your monthly income into separate envelopes that are labeled for several spending categories.
This technique allows you to actually see how much cash you have for each category. Once you spend this amount before the end of the month, you won’t be able to replenish it.
You may have two main categories with fixed and variable expenses for each month. Fixed expenses include rent payments, utility bills, as well as insurance. Variable costs usually fluctuate from month to month and consist of transport expenses, groceries, and discretionary spending. The main benefit of this method is that it helps you to lower monthly spending and have a limited sum of cash on hand so that you aren’t tempted to overspend.
3. Zero-Based Budget
This method means you subtract costs from your monthly income until nothing is left. This strategy is useful for people who want to have zero waste so that every dollar works for them. This target can be achieved if you assign costs to special categories. You can write the main spending categories such as housing, groceries, transportation, utilities, etc.
Moreover, you may add such categories as debt repayment, entertainment, and extra bills. It is important to repay existing debt. Almost every person takes out a loan or a credit card to cover temporary financial issues. So, it’s essential to pay the debt off on time to avoid the endless debt cycle.
The benefit of this method is that it offers more flexibility on how you want to direct existing income and see where your money goes. On the other hand, categorizing and tracking your monthly costs may consume a lot of your time.
Finally, having a budget is really important for every person today. We all live in an unstable world where everything may change all of a sudden. You need to stay on track with your personal finances and budget so that you can avoid financial disruptions and meet your monetary targets.
Each of the methods has advantages and downsides so you need to review each option before you make the final choice and decide which budgeting strategy works best for you and your current financial needs. Changing and improving your spending habits and being aware of your money and how you spend it may help you choose the best budgeting strategy for you and your financial needs.