Things are easier said than done, or so the old adage goes, and we couldn't agree more. That's why we do The GOOD 30-Day Challenge (#30DaysofGOOD), a monthly attempt to live better. Our challenge for January? Financial Fitness.
Create a budget.
Now that you have turned over all the pieces to your financial jigsaw puzzle (we hope), it's time to start putting them together in the most efficient way possible in order to achieve the goals you've set for yourself.
Creating a manageable, realistic budget is paramount in being able to do this. For the most part, we all know how much money we make in a month, as well as our monthly expenses (rent, utilities, car payments etc.) By compartmentalizing your monthly income, and allotting x dollars to each of y areas, you'll be able to have all z fun that you want. #badfinancejokes
There are a lot of resources out there to help you get started. You can use your new Mint.com profile. There are also a number of apps for your smartphone that can help you budget. A simple Excel worksheet can also work. There's no one best way to budget, but keep these tips in mind:
First earmark for of all your expenses first. This includes rent, utilities, debt payments (more than the minimum)
Next build in savings, both for retirement and a short-term emergency/savings fund.
Give yourself a realistic allowance which you can stick to, and from time to time reward yourself if you consistently stay under budget.
If the first method doesn't work, don't get discouraged! Sticking to a budget is a very personal, and sometimes painstaking, process. You may need to tweak the amounts or the methods numerous times to figure out what works best. You're the one in charge here; your budget should be a source of comfort for you, not a source of stress.
Come back tomorrow for the next task in our financial fitness challenge.
And propose an idea for a project or workshop that promotes financial fitness in your community. The idea that gets the most votes will win $500 to implement the project.