Each time you’ve pulled out your credit card this month, it’s bothered you more. This was supposed to be the year to for starting a budget, building an emergency fund, and quitting living paycheck to paycheck. But your New Year’s resolution to take control of your money lasted until the holiday bills showed up in the middle of January.
You’re proud you didn’t entirely give up though. You’ve done a pretty good job of cutting some expenses this year. But there are still months where you can’t pay more than the minimum on your credit card debt. And that has to change if you want to get ahead.
Why Budgeting Helps
Everything you read tells you budgeting and tracking your expenses is the first step in taking control of your finances. But a 2016 U.S. Bank study reported just over 4 in 10 Americans actually use a budget.
Here are a few reasons budgeting makes sense:
- Budgeting helps lower your stress levels because your monthly finances are no longer a guessing game. When you budget, you are intentional about saving and spending based on your financial goals.
- If your expenses are greater than your income, you can look at where you can trim your spending and consider ways to grow your income. Can you negotiate your next raise or reduce your cell phone costs? Is adding a side hustle or part-time job what you need to cover your budget gap. Your budget will help you see the difference each change can make to your overall financial situation.
- Growing an emergency fund helps to prevent using a credit card or loan against your home to pay for unexpected events. When bad things happen, the last thing you want to do is spend a tremendous amount of interest on the expenses you incur.
- A budget also helps by providing you the information you need to have talks with those you love about money. Whether it’s your spouse, your kids, your siblings, or your parents — being on the same page about your finances will help you meet your financial goals.
It Won’t Be Perfect, and That’s OK
It can be intimidating to do a deep dive into your spending and try to create a budget. But knowing how much money comes in and seeing where it all goes each month is the first step in effectively managing your finances.