With so many homes available right now due to the foreclosure storm that's been going on in our current economic crisis, it can be a great time to buy a first home. However, before you fork out your hard earned money to buy one of these deals, make sure that your budget will allow you to make the purchase without straining your family income.
Even if you're not looking to buy a home, having a household budget is a must-have for anyone and everyone who's looking to live more efficiently. Having no budget is the equivalent of living as the figurative ostrich with your head in the sand, avoiding facing the reality of your financial situation.
Budgeting is basically just having a written plan that encompasses an estimated projected income and expenses which you then adjust as the bills and payments come in. Consider for a moment that your household is a business; no business would ever do well without keeping track of what money came in and what the monthly expenditures were. Try considering your home a business to help your assets grow!
Budgets can be set up in a variety of media; the simplest is a ledger book of course. If you prefer to not have to set up your own budget there are options as well; you can buy budgeting software or use an online budget service. Many of the computer options let you download your bank statements right into it so that you can accurately track your spending.
No matter what method you decide to use generally you want to start by estimating your monthly income. If you aren't paid the exact same amount every month you'll need to use a best guess and adjust as your paycheques come in. Make sure that you include all of your sources of monthly income.
The next step is determining your monthly expenses. Make sure you include what you spend every month for your coffee shop stops, movies, toiletries, tolls, and parking. It's a good idea to have a note of when all these bills are due as well so you can plan which pay cheque can cover which bill until you can get ahead of your bills.
Once all your bills and payments come in every month you can look and see where you stand. If you have more income than payments you have a few options: you can get ahead on some of your bills so that you're paying them before the due date, you can put the extra money in an account from which you can draw your bill payments without having to wait for pay cheques to come in, you can put extra payments down on high interest loans or credit cards, or you can just save that extra money for a rainy day.
If at the end of the month you see that you have a shortfall of money you will need to do some reworking of your projected budget as you are overspending somewhere based on your income. Usually some of the easier places to cut back are on wardrobe, entertainment, and food. To help you get ahead with your finances try using a menu to plan your weekly meals so you spend less at the grocery store as well as brown bagging your lunches for work.
Another good way to cut back on spending is to give yourself a cash allowance for your weekly spending. If you want to spend only up to $150 on groceries for your week, put that amount of money aside in cash and don't take your debit card or credit card to the grocery store. Make sure that you're only using the money that you've set aside for a particular item on what that money is supposed to be used for.
Sometimes a budget can help show you were you're overspending, and by cutting back (even temporarily) you can often catch up and get ahead with your finances. It just might help you find the money to buy your own home as well!
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