5 Simple Steps for Creating a Budget & Maintaining It
Creating and maintaining a budget isn’t easy on the best of days―and it becomes even harder when you’re faced with financial uncertainty. If your finances have taken a toll recently, it’s important to reflect upon your current spending plan, commonly referred to as a budget, and update it accordingly. And hey, if you’ve never had a spending plan before, that’s okay! This is a great time to learn. We have put together 5 simple steps to revise your budget and get back on track.
Step 1: Track your spending
Before you can create or revise your budget, you need to know what money is coming in and where it’s going. Track your spending for at least two weeks to see what your typical bank account activity is. Make sure to consider any government assistance, tax returns/payments, side hustles, etc. so you have the fullest picture possible to work from.
Step 2: Calculate expenses
If you don’t know how much money you are or will be bringing in each month, no worries. Determine how much money you need to cover your expenses and start there. Go through your full list of monthly payments (e.g. mortgage/rent, cell phone, internet, transportation, insurance, utilities, childcare, pets, debts/loans, subscriptions/memberships, groceries, entertainment, shopping, etc.) and then mindfully organize them into two categories: essential and non-essential. Those deemed essential will become the baseline of your monthly budget, so you can ensure you’re covering the bare minimum. Look at ways to cut back or cancel altogether your non-essentials. (At least just for the time being!)
Step 3: Find extra money
While it might seem difficult now, there are lots of ways to help boost your monthly income and find or save some extra money along the way. Consider a side hustle to help bring in more money each month or seek out any government financial assistance programs that you might qualify for. Now is also a good time to call your service providers, financial institutions, etc. to ask about payment deferrals, credits or any perks they may have for loyal customers. There are resources available to you―you just need to find them!
Step 4: Adjust your budget
Spent a little more at the grocery store than you’d intended? Did gas cost you less this month than you’d budgeted for? It’s normal for spending plans to ebb and flow―that’s life! Make room in your budget for unexpected expenditures (like an appliance repair or a higher utilities bill), even tuck some money into a “splurge” account to responsibly treat yourself to an online shopping spree, and then throw any extra money you have into your savings. Keep in mind that extra money can be one dollar, or a hundred, and small amounts add up to successful savings after years of building good financial habits. Win/win.
Step 5: Talk to a financial professional
Creating or revising a spending plan can be daunting, but luckily there is help nearby. Our approachable, accredited counsellors are here to walk you through your unique financial situation and help prepare you for whatever life throws your way. We offer free, unbiased credit counselling and money coaching over the phone and virtually, so you can find financial stability and peace of mind once again.