4 Ways To Budget Better In 2016

4 Ways to Budget Better in 2016

Roughly 31 percent of the U.S. population is planning to make financial New Year's resolutions this January, according to a study conducted by Fidelity. While financial resolutions are always a great goal, the study showed that only about half of those who made them last year felt like they were successful. If you're planning on adding " manage money" to your resolution list, you may already be feeling both excited at the prospect of finally taking charge of your finances and nervous about whether you'll be able to follow through. Here are some tips to help you keep your resolutions and get your finances in order.

The Benefits of Budgeting

If hearing the word "budget" sends you running in the opposite direction, you're not alone. Even when you know you need one, the idea of sitting down and making a budget can feel like going to financial jail. But the small act of creating a monthly budget can reap big rewards. Budgeting can make it easier to pay your bills on time, pad your savings account and even get out of debt more quickly. Creating a budget can also help couples managing joint finances communicate more and work toward their financial goals as a team. Budgeting holds you accountable for how and where you spend your money, so you never have to wonder what happened to your paycheck after just one trip to the grocery store.

4 Ways to Make a Better Budget

Creating a budget can seem like a very complicated process if you've never done one before, but it doesn't have to be. Here are four tips to help you get your New Year's resolution off to a good start and get the most out of your budget.

Be honest. Your budget should be reflective of your spending and saving habits. If you say you're only going to spend $100 per month on groceries when you typically spend $400, you're setting yourself up for failure right from the start. To get a more accurate picture of your spending habits, try keeping all of your receipts for a month and then adding up how much you spent in each category. It might not be pretty, but you have to face reality before you can start changing it.

Write it down. A budget will not work if it's not written down. Putting your plan on paper is likely to leave you feeling a bit queasy the first couple of months, but it is essential to your success. Pick a method that works best for you — whether it be on a whiteboard in a high-traffic area in your house, a pen-and-paper system, an Excel spreadsheet or BMI FCU's My Finance Tool — and use it.

Create a new budget each month

Create a new budget each month. No two months are the same. Birthdays, holidays, seasonal utility bills and unexpected expenses can throw off your budgeting game if you try to create a one-size-fits-all plan. Make a new budget every month or pay period, and take any out-of-the-ordinary expenses you have coming up into consideration.

Consult a professional. Everyone's a beginner when they start budgeting, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the different options and opinions. If this sounds like you, talking to one of BMI Federal Credit Union's Certified Financial Counselors can help.

Making Your New Year's Budgeting Resolution Stick

The best way to keep your new budgeting resolution is to commit to doing a budget every month. Even if you didn't meet your savings goals last month or bought one too many lattes, it's okay. Creating and sticking to a budget is a lifelong process. Forgive yourself when you have a bad month and try to turn it into a learning experience. Maybe you didn't remember to budget for new tires before winter, but now you know to put $20 in your car maintenance category every month.

Instead of thinking of your budget like a set of strict rules, try looking at it as a fluid, ever-changing financial plan. Your budget isn't there to remind you about everything you can't buy. It's there to help you understand where your money is coming from and what you want to do with it. It's your money, your goals and your budget.