Key Points for a Successful Budget.

Before moving on to the next step—preparing to budget—consider some factors that will ensure greater success with creating and sticking to the plan.
  1. Be as accurate as possible. Don’t guess about your income and expenses. Look at recent paystubs to know gross pay and each amount that is withheld. For expenses, review bills and past payments. Look at bank and credit card to see how much money was actually spent.


  2. Tailor the budget categories to your needs. Budget templates[A1]  enable you to use a pre-set spreadsheet and enter your own information, without starting from a blank page. These templates can be very useful as a starting point but might not include income or expense groups that are important to you. Be sure your budget is all encompassing and, if using a template, customize the headings and categories as needed. For example, you might want to separate school supplies and expenses for each child, rather than group everything under one expense.


  3. Track cash expenditures. The money spent for coffee[A2] , a magazine or newspaper, taxi ride, tips, parking, lunch, or a short stop at the grocery store or pharmacy can add up quickly and not be recorded in the expenses. Keep receipts or jot down the cost for every purchase and include them in the monthly accounting.


  4. Keep a positive attitude. Budgeting is a positive step toward a secure financial position. It shouldn’t be painful or punishing. Remember the goals for creating the budget and focus on the benefits of staying on task.

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