A Single Man’s Guide to Creating (and Sticking To) a Budget
Ah, bachelorhood. There’s nothing like it. Not a care in the world. No one to look over your shoulder or tell you what to do – sounds good, huh?
While being a single man out on your own definitely has its perks, it also means that you are now suddenly responsible for all of your own bills. This can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you create and stick to a budget, you will be able to face the “real world” like so many people have done before you!
A budget is necessary to stay on track with your bills and to be sure that you have adequate money to pay everyone who has their “hand out”. Life without a budget is like taking a trip without knowing if you have enough fuel to get to your destination. The goal of making a budget is to help you to control your impulse to spend more than you can afford, pay your bills timely, and maybe even start saving some cash. So where to begin…
The first step in creating a budget is to determine how much money you have coming in. This is usually in the form of your salary or wages from working. Include in the total of your income any other money that you have coming in regularly. Take the total of your average weekly income and multiply that by 4.3 or multiply your bi-weekly income by 2.1. This will help you to arrive at your average monthly income.
Next, you’ll need to determine where all that money goes to each month. Determining your spending by noting everything that goes out – such as rent, car payment, car insurance, gas to get to and from work, food, electricity and other utilities, cable, health insurance, entertainment expenses, student loans, credit card bills, and other bills. If you pay it on a regular basis, list it on paper and you’ll come up with your average monthly expenditures.
Next, subtract your average monthly expenditures from your average monthly income? What’s left? If the answer is little or nothing, or if you even end up with a “negative”, then you’re definitely in need of some better budgeting. You will need to cut your expenses or increase the amount of money coming in each month. If getting another job is not feasible, then cutting expenses is the only solution to your problem. Determine how much additional money you need to find in the budget, and then get ready to slash expenses.
Review what you spend your money on and look for ways to reduce the money that is going out each month. For instance, let’s say that you want to cut $200 from your monthly budget. If you had budgeted $100 for eating out at your favorite restaurants, you might consider reducing that to just $50, thereby increasing your budget by a $50 savings. If you cut the premium channels from your satellite television bill each month, you can save another $25. Walk to work a few mornings each week and you’ll reduce the amount of gas money that you need by an additional $25 a month. With these three changes, you’ve already cut $100 from your budget. And while there are certain expenses that you cannot do without, most people are usually able to whittle other expenses down to accommodate a smaller budget. Maybe you’ll decide to rent a DVD instead of going to the movies every weekend. Small savings can make a big difference in your financial independence.
With a bit of sacrifice and realistic expectations, you’ll be able to stick to a budget until your financial picture improves.
About Jessica Ackerman