Bills, bills, bills! Sometimes everything can add up – and fast! The idea of planning a monthly budget can be intimidating, especially for young adults. Budgets are more than just paying bills on time – they are roadmaps that determine how much you want to spend and what you plan to save. Here are some ways to get started!
Photo: Alexander Mils on Unsplash
Get organized and determine your monthly income
First, make sure you have all your bank statements, receipts, and information about your salary in one location. A folder or binder with labels for each of these categories would be a great way to stay organized. Then, determine the details of your monthly income from all sources. Write down your income for the month, and if you have an irregular income, then write down your minimum amount of income for that month.
Try the 50/20/30 rule
In your twenties, the 50/20/30 rule can be a lifesaver, and it will help you figure out how to adult! Set aside no more than half of your income for the absolute necessities in your life. These are the fixed expenses, such as mortgage or rent, utilities, credit card bills, insurance, transportation, and phone bills. Next, 20 percent of your income should go toward your savings. Lastly, 30 percent should be for your personal lifestyle expenses, including restaurants, entertainment, gym memberships, or clothing. Review each category and be discerning when it comes to how you are spending your money, and make sure to check your spendings every month to make sure you are on track.
Record all your expenses
Choose a tracking system. This could be in the form of a spreadsheet, an app, or even just on paper, and record all of your payments. By tracking every single dollar you spend, you can make note of when you go over budget, and the best – when you are under budget and can spend a little extra!
Use budget apps
There’s a quick and easy way to keep track of my money? Sign me up! The app “Flipp” compiles all your local weekly store ads, making the search for sales in your area really simple. You can search by brand, item, or category. Sometimes they will even throw in some coupons! “Splitwise” is another great app to use when you share bills with someone else, like your roommates or your significant other. By having a record of your shared expenses, you can avoid stress and arguments. Also, the app allows you to keep track of your individual balances and you can even set up email reminders.
Avoid store credit cards
It may sound nice to get an extra 15% off that purchase, but think about all the stores you are getting credit cards for. Sometimes these stores add hidden fees, and you might not end up shopping there as much as you think. Only choose to get credit cards for the stores that you think would be worthwhile!
Adjust next month’s budget
There’s always room to improve! Based on this month’s spending, figure out where you need to increase or decrease the amounts you budgeted. It takes about 3 months to get the numbers right, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t come easy right away. Soon enough, you will have enough money saved up to spend on some luxuries!
Keep in mind:
– Take out cash only once per pay period for groceries and day to day spending
– Overestimate your bills so you end up with more money than you expected (which is always a nice surprise at the end of the month!)
– Try to find new hobbies that you enjoy that you can also get money for! (My favorite one is taking clothes from a thrift store and making them into something new!)
– Try to not add any expenses or spending once the month begins
Let us know how you budget on our social media @stepupmagazine!
My name is Jackie Garcia and I am 21 years old, majoring in Media Arts and Design. When I'm not busy with school or writing, I love to travel, dance and watch re-runs of "New Girl.”