Have a budget and stick to it.
A must-do when it comes to managing your money is having a budget and sticking to it. That last part is the tough part, but it’s also key to financial balance and progress.
Your budget represents the plan for how you will spend your money. As Dave Ramsey says, “A budget is people telling their money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” You want to avoid looking back over a month and wondering, Where did that money go?
1 Corinthians 4:2 says, “It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
2 As stewards of the money that God has entrusted to us, whether it’s a little or a lot, we need to have a plan in place for our financial spending and saving. That’s where a budget comes in.
Life is full of expenses, but most of those are regular expenses that we know are coming, whether weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Every regular or semi-regular expense should be accounted for in your budget. Of course, bona fide emergencies sometimes come up that cause you to spend beyond your budget. We’ll talk about that more in point four.
When creating a budget, here are a few tips:
Identify your true income and budget all of it. Work with the income you can consistently count on. Don’t include windfalls or yearend bonuses as part of your regular income. Budget beginning with your basic living expenses, other vital payments, then allot any remaining funds to pay off debt and save for emergencies and other long-term needs. Be realistic in calculating
expenses. It doesn’t help to try to minimize genuine expenses that cannot actually be trimmed down. If you underbudget for food or gas, for example, because you’re hoping to save or would like to spend less in those categories, but your figures aren’t realistic, you’ll end up spending more than is noted on your budget anyway. That will bring stress, and it works against the purpose of a budget.
Adjust as needed. Go over your budget monthly to keep it current and to assess what changes or adjustments need to be made. Keep records in a way that
works for you. The best record-keeping system for you is whatever works for you, whether that’s a spreadsheet program, various envelopes, or a handy notebook.