How to budget for the year ahead?
This will help you get a snapshot of your income compared to your spending, and provides an avenue to review all of your outgoing costs and helps you make changes to increase your monthly cashflow – or just feel less stressed!
Step 1: Calculate Your Income
The very first step to creating any budget is determining your income – knowing exactly how much money you bring in is important to understanding what you have available to spend. Remember to focus on NET INCOME versus gross salary, as budgeting for more than you can afford will lead to overspending.
Step 2: Track Your Spending
Once you have determined your income, you will want to take a look at your spending. Reviewing and categorizing all your monthly bills can help you breakdown exactly where your money goes and make some priorities to mark where changes can be made. To start, first list out your fixed expenses – these are things like car payments, loans, rent or mortgage costs that do not change on a monthly basis. Next, you will want to take a look at your variable expenses – things like groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. and determine your average spend. This is typically the area where people are able to cut back.
Step 3: Set Realistic Goals
Realistic goals are vital for long-lasting financial health. It is important to determine what you cannot live without and where you can cut costs or scale back on spending. Ideally, when it comes to your monthly budget, you want to consider the 50/30/20 rule, which applies the following:
- 50% of your spending is for NEEDS such as rent or mortgage payments, car payments, utilities and groceries
- 30% of your income goes to WANTS such as shopping, vacations, streaming services, etc.
- 20% of your income goes to SAVINGS OR DEBT such as emergency funds, retirement, child’s education and/or credit card payments
Step 4: Make a Plan
Once you have your goals set, you can now make a plan to tackle your financial position and ensure a healthy cashflow each month. For some, setting realistic spending limits for each category works well. For others, taking a look at the importance of their expenses and re-prioritizing can free up funds.
Step 5: Adjust Your Spending
Now that you have determined how much money you bring in per month and what you spend it on, you can take a look at adjusting your spending to ensure you remain on budget. Taking a realistic look at your wants is a great place to cut out frivolous spending beyond a reasonable amount. This is also a great time to review your fixed expenses. Perhaps you can save money by getting a better interest rate on your mortgage or changing the payment schedule for your loan. Be sure to connect with a me before making any changes to your mortgage!
Step 6: Stay on Track
Tracking your budget on a monthly basis is important to catch any changes in your spending habits. As well, it is a good idea to conduct an annual review and take into account any increase in expenses or wages that may require shifts in your overall plan.
The Government of Canada has an online budget planner tool available as well if you need further assistance! You can find it here.
Remember: A healthy budget is key to financial freedom and comfort.
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