Summer is over and we’re entering the fall months, which means most people have the holidays on their minds. Instead of splurging last minute on gifts and travel plans, why not get yourself into good financial shape now? This way you will have adopted healthier habits before the heavy spending period begins. Here are five great budgeting suggestions to help you get on track.
1. Know What You Owe
One of the biggest problems people have is not knowing how much they owe. The bills come and we avoid even opening the envelopes. If you want to get yourself in good financial standing, you will need to face the music. Determine the balance and interest rate for every single one of your debts so you can create a plan that is accurate, thorough, and attainable.
2. Be Realistic
If you are barely covering your expenses, planning a dream vacation or buying expensive gifts is not a great idea, because it will only put you further into debt. Similarly, if you are in an overwhelming amount of debt while living paycheck to paycheck, you will likely have to either pick up a second job or make sacrifices to eliminate your debt. Whatever your situation, be honest with yourself about it, and plan accordingly.
3. Set Short-Term Goals
Once you have taken inventory of your debts and obligations, you may feel discouraged. Instead of focusing on how long it could take to pay off your debts, set smaller, short-term goals. Once you start chipping away at your debts, you will start to build momentum. After all, you have to start somewhere, right?
4. Set Long-Term Goals
Even though you will be focusing largely on your short-term accomplishments for a while, you will still need to set some bigger, long-term goals. Where do you want to be in six months? A year? Five years? Do you want to travel? Purchase a house? Go back to school? Think about what you want your life to look like and set a plan in motion. If you dream it, you can achieve it!
5. Track Your Spending
It will feel tedious and extraneous at first, but it is important to track your spending so you can identify where your money is truly going. It may be an eye-opening experience. For example, if you stop to buy coffee on your way to work every day, you may be spending $100 or more a month on these convenience drinks. If you grab lunch instead of brown-bagging it, you might be out an additional $150-$200.
It’s a brave and important step to take control of your finances and create better spending habits. This is a great time of year to dive in and be ruthless. Your financial health matters!