Use this simple system to create a budget outline. First take a piece of paper and write down all monthly expenses. Include: rent or mortgage expenses, groceries, student loan payments, car payments, car repairs, credit card payments and utility bills. In addition to this, be sure to know the amount of money you bring home every month. Take the total of your monthly bills and subtract it from your monthly income. If your bills are greater than your income, don’t despair. The following pointers will help you adjust your budget!
Try to pay only one-third of your monthly income for rent or mortgage expenses. Estimate transportation costs at around a quarter of your take-home pay. This should include car, insurance and gasoline expenses, or train and taxi expenses.
Set aside twenty percent of your monthly income for food costs. This should include take-out, snacks, and coffee. Consider carrying a lunch to work to save money. Buy large, economy size packaging at the grocery store. Divide food among several meals, and then wrap tightly in aluminum foil to freeze for later use.
Figure money for recreation and entertainment. Expect to spend five percent of your monthly income for recreational activities, movies, or sporting events.
Check your math. Use extra money for monthly credit card payments, utility bills not included in your rent payment (cable or satellite TV, and phone), student loan payments, gifts for friends and relatives, or feeding and caring for a pet.
Give yourself a big pat on the back! You’ve now got your budget outline down on paper, and you're ready to follow it!
- DON'T use credit cards to 'take up the slack'.
- PAY OFF any credit card debt accumulated during the month.
- Get in the habit of saving for big expenses, like a new winter coat or fur-lined boots.
- Use your public library card to check out recipe books, sewing books, and other reading materials.
- Try having a potluck with your friends at your apartment for a fun andinexpensive get-together.