Our personal financial resources are finite and managing them properly is essential for peace of mind. There is an overwhelming amount of budgeting advice available. It is difficult to know where to start!
However, without good advice, the risk is that we will just continue to make financial mistakes and miss the opportunity to improve. With more than 150 years of helping customers handle their money, GBTI has some budgeting advice for you.
Track Your Spending
This can be tedious, but it is necessary to start with an idea of where your money is going before you can determine what is working in your budget and what needs adjustment. Write down everything you spend over the course of several months.
Some of your expenses, such as rent or mortgage and car payments will be the same. Others, like groceries, clothing and entertainment are variable. Recording them will give you an average monthly picture. Your GBTI VISA credit card statements can assist.
Use a Method That Works for You
Once you know where your money is going, identify a budgeting method that works for you. Some people prefer a line by line approach, noting which expenses are necessary and which are discretionary. Others find that a simplified proportional plan is best.
In a proportional plan, expenses are divided into three broad categories: needs, wants and savings. A proportion of your budget is allotted to each. For instance, 50 percent of your net income can be for needs, 30 percent for wants, and 20 percent for your GBTI savings account.
You can change the percentages depending on your circumstances. Also, consider automizing as many of your bills as you can by authorizing withdrawals from your GBTI checking account or charges to your GBTI VISA card on a monthly basis.
Pay off Your Debts
You should incorporate a debt repayment plan into your budget. Large debts like mortgages, car loans, and student loans will be with you for a while. Be aware of the interest you are paying, particularly for large debts, and seek out the lowest rates that you can find.
When it comes to other debts, before taking them on, be confident that you can pay them off quickly. Better yet, save up before making a purchase and pay with cash.
Budget for Emergencies
While it is difficult to anticipate emergencies, it is certain that they will happen. Having an amount set aside in a GBTI savings account will ensure that emergency funds are easily accessed when you require them.
There are many schools of thought about how much to set aside. The bottom line is that any amount is better than nothing and having savings on hand is invaluable when an unexpected expense occurs. Start small by setting aside an amount monthly.
Set Savings Goals
Savings should definitely be part of your budget. Building up cash reserves for short-term goals such as a purchase for your home or long-term retirement plans is important to make sure that you can comfortably finance your objectives.
One budgeting strategy is to have different GBTI savings accounts for specific purposes. This could mean a vacation savings account, a fund for Christmas and holiday gift giving, and a savings account for other purposes.
Find Additional Funds
There are several ways to find additional funds to bolster your budget. For example, you may receive a windfall as the result of an inheritance or a salary increase. When this happens, maximize the benefit by adding to your GBTI savings account for emergencies or to reach your goals faster.
The other way to uncover additional monies is to negotiate what you are spending. Many companies have loyalty programs or special deals. It is possible that you can arrange a reduced rate with your internet or cell phone provider, particularly if you are a long-time customer. Before sealing the deal on that new kitchen appliance, ask if it is the best price that they can give you.
Review Your Spending Periodically
The success of your budget relies, in part, on careful review from time to time. Adhering to new spending practices can be hard. Have some compassion for yourself if everything does not go as planned in the first few months.
It could be that you have missed including some crucial expenses in drafting your budget or you may not have anticipated an upcoming increase in utility costs. Life is full of changes and this means that your budget must be tailored to your personal financial situation for it to meet your needs. What seemed realistic in the past may no longer be doable.
Finally, remember that budgeting is a lifelong effort. By paying attention to where your money is going, putting in place some basic practices, and applying any lessons learned, you will be well on your way to financial success.