Create a Budget You Can Stick To
By Members Choice Credit Union Staff
Life throws a lot at you – constant trips to the grocery store, soaring gas prices, and the unexpected car repair.
You don’t need to worry every time you take out your wallet. When you have a plan for your money, you can spend and save with confidence.
Here are a few tips for creating a budget that you can stick to:
Track your Spending
For one month, track your spending and use it as a starting point.
Brace yourself. You’ll see all your spending habits, both good and bad. Once you discover where your dollars are going, what your spending says about what you value, and how quickly it can all go, you can begin to prioritize.
Start to cut out the items that are keeping you from your goals.
Consider your Financial Needs
Budgeting is not one size fits all. What works for one person may not work for you. Start by addressing your absolute necessities (housing, food, utilities, transportation) before prioritizing the things you want.
Remember that different expenses arrive at different times, so each month will vary. Be prepared for these fluctuations and include them in your budget.
Set SMART Goals
Handle your financial goals as you would any other goals and keep them SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Experts say to try out your goals before you implement them. For example, if you think you can handle a particular loan payment, practice by transferring that amount of money into your savings for 6 months. If you can do it comfortably, then you can most likely afford the loan.
Establish an Emergency Fund
We cannot stress this enough: building an emergency fund is a critical step in maintaining financial stability.
Unexpected bills will come. Financial storms will hit. With an emergency fund, you will have the latitude to weather these storms, stay on track with your goals, and stay out of debt.
Put Yourself On Your Schedule
Each month, choose a dedicated time and place to assess your goals, plan your spending, and track your progress. Do not reschedule. Completing these tasks is key to maintaining a successful budget.
Auto Bill Pay
Save time and avoid late fees with Auto Bill Pay. This process can offer peace of mind that each bill is being addressed and paid on time and in full.
When banking online with Members Choice, you can set bill payment reminders, schedule bill payments, and even pay by picture. We have the tools you need to make sure that you are never late or miss a payment.
Brace for Budget Cuts
It happens to the best of us – our spending gets out of control and we need to cut back. These changes are difficult, especially when we are accustomed to a specific lifestyle. To overcome the pain, continue to focus on your ‘why.’ Ask yourself: Why am I making these changes? Who am I making these changes for? What awaits me in the future?
Keeping a keen eye on your goals will propel you through the demanding changes and get you back on track.
Let’s face it – we could all use a financial accountability partner.
If you are married, schedule a family budget night. Set goals together and dream about your financial future. Agree on your priorities and how each dollar is spent. Remember, it’s no longer my money or your money, it’s our money. Work through any challenges and move forward together!
If you are single, find someone you trust to be in your corner. Have them check in to make sure that you are sticking to your goals. Ask them for advice to see how your progress can improve.
Give Yourself Grace
Change takes time. It usually takes a few months to get a handle on things. You might even stumble on a regular basis. It’s ok! Give yourself grace, learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward. Things will get easier.
All of us at Members Choice Credit Union are rooting for you! We know what it takes to maintain financial stability and to turn your spending habits around. Be sure to visit us at choicefcu.com to see the resources that are available to you as you continue on your financial journey.