A Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting
The word “budget” brings with it a tidal wave of information—definitions, savings tools, what to save for, and so on. It can feel overwhelming, especially if your first question is, “Do I really need to budget or can I just guess?” If you have short-term or long-term savings goals, such as a vacation or saving for a down payment on a house, then the answer is yes.
Other budgetary goal examples can include:
- Rent or mortgage payment
- Credit card payments
- Cash transactions
- Auto expenses
- Holiday spending
There are many tips and tricks that will help you learn how to budget, but we’ve narrowed it down to two categories.
Step 1: Define Your Budget
Setting inspiring financial goals to work toward is the first step in budgeting. As mentioned, these can either be a short-term or long-term goals.
Short-term goals might include:
- Paying student loan debt
- Buying new home appliances
- Funding a vacation
Long-term goals might include:
- Reaching retirement early
- Paying off your mortgage
- Saving for a down payment on a house, car, or kids’ college funds.
Another tip? It’s never too early to start saving. For example, if you put away $50 every other month starting in January, you’ll have enough money saved up for the holiday shopping season.
Step 2: Try Budgeting Tips & Tricks
There are countless ways to budget. However, your goals will determine which course of action is best for you. These can include:
- The Envelope Method. Each month, stay on budget by placing a certain amount of cash in an envelope for each category (such as dining out, shopping, and miscellaneous purchases). Once that cash runs out, you’re done spending until next month.
- The Lowest-Guaranteed-Income Method. By averaging your last three months of income, you can estimate what your targets should be to prevent overbudgeting or underbudgeting.
- The Payoff Method. Pay down your credit card debt so you can redistribute money to your budgeting plan.
- The Consistency Method. Stay on track and make corrective changes by observing your budgeting each day or at least once per week.
- The Seasonal Method. Saving opportunities arise throughout the seasons. For example, you can take money saved by not running the air conditioner during those crisp autumn months and place it into your budgeting account.
- The Reward System Method. Everyone deserves to celebrate an accomplishment—including successfully budgeting. Treat yourself to a celebratory dinner or movie every so often to keep you motivated during your budgeting journey.
- The Format Method. If you like organization, you can handwrite your budget, enter it into an Excel sheet, or add it to a budgeting app.
- The Auto-Pay Method. For a set-it-and-forget-it method, set up automatic payments to pay off current debts or add a certain amount of money to your savings account.
- The Overall-Review Method. Once your budget is finished, review your spending and saving activity. This lets you get a realistic understanding of achieving more short- and long-term financial goals.
At Guardian Savings Bank, budgeting doesn’t have to be daunting. Use our top budgeting tips or contact our friendly team to get your savings journey started.