Have you ever spent money on something unnecessary and then recalled a more urgent expense? Budgeting helps us have money for what we need and want so we don’t have to worry about the unexpected! It keeps us out of financial trouble and prepares us for the things that matter most. Do you have any important purchases or expenses coming up this year? How about an emergency fund? Budgeting makes each of these items less stressful!
Where do I start?
In brief, budgeting is adding up your monthly income and subtracting your monthly expenses to make sure you have money for your needs, savings, and ‘wants.’ Sounds easy, right? The difficult part is remembering everything you spend money on! Using an organizer like this (PDF) can help you keep track of your expenses. You can also use the budgeting tool in Arvest Online Banking to simplify this process. Just log into your Arvest account and then go to ‘Dashboard’ and ‘Plan.’
You can track your spending by the week or by the month. Start by reviewing your debit/credit card activity, as seen in your bank app, or by collecting your receipts each week and noting them a few at a time. Complete the “spent” column of the organizer to help you evaluate your current spending. Then pick appropriate numbers for the “budget” column with your spending and income in mind. At the end of the week or month you can review another copy of the organizer to compare your new “spent” numbers with your budget. You’ll definitely want to reference your budget throughout the month so you don’t overspend in one category and have too little in a different one. Budget numbers are the guardrails you put in place to help you pay for your needs and then work on your goals.
Make it You!
Not all of us buy the same things, so remember to add your own categories! Some categories that are relevant to other people may not yet be part of your life. You might eat out or golf regularly. If this is you, add a category for those expenses! You’ll begin to learn more about the financial choices you make and how to plan ahead for the bits of life that are easily forgotten. Perhaps you’ll notice disproportionate spending in one or two categories, and this will prompt healthy changes in your life. Whatever you do, remember to set goals that motivate you. Maybe it’s a new TV or a special date night; Budgeting helps you get there with money to make it memorable!
If this process sounds difficult for you, get a friend to do it too, and use that shared goal to give yourself accountability. Your future will thank you!