Choosing to stick to a budget may seem like adding restrictions to your life. Maybe you’re already living paycheck to paycheck and feel you can’t afford to think ahead of today, or perhaps you’re comfortable and don’t need to think too much about where every dollar goes. But wherever you are in your financial life, creating a detailed budget can actually give you more freedom in the long term.
Knowledge is Power
If you want to save up emergency money, take fun vacations, or buy that big-ticket item you’ve had your eye on, finding out how much money you really have and where it goes when it leaves your checking account is essential. Let’s look at a breakdown of the basic steps:
- Find out exactly how much you have to work with each month.
- Find out where your money is going.
- See where your spending weaknesses are and address those weaknesses.
- Reallocate funds from what’s less important to what’s more important.
- Spend less than you earn.
How to Get Started
- Establish your long-term goals.
- Know your take-home pay.
- Collect monthly receipts.
- Factor in regular, periodic expenses like insurance.
- Record every expense, no matter how small.
- Be realistic with goals.
- Set up automatic savings.
- Adjust your plan as needed.
- Reduce debt.
- Save for a down payment to buy a house.
- Pay down or pay off credit card debt.
- Make a major purchase.
- Establish college savings.
- Build an emergency fund.
Common ways to save
- Reduce entertainment savings.
- Cut down on eating out.
- Budget your vacations.
- Use coupons.
- Look for bargains on gas.
- Skip sodas and coffees when eating out. Tap water is free!
- Pay off higher-interest credit cards first.
- Take advantage of balance-transfer offers if they have promo rates.
- Make a game of it by challenging family members to see who can save the most on regular expenses.
- Talk with the credit union staff for more ideas.
This article is for educational purposes only. Tulsa FCU makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, or specific suitability of any information presented. Information provided should not be relied on or interpreted as legal, tax or financial advice. Nor does the information directly relate to our products and/or services terms and conditions.