If your New Years resolution is to save money, start with a budget that you can live with that includes saving some of your income every month. It sounds simple, right? Tracking your monthly spending, then making a plan to stay within that budget can be an overwhelming task for some people.
We suggest starting small. First, look at your after-tax income. Don’t include income you can’t be sure to receive, such as periodic bonuses or tax refunds. Second, track your expenses for two months. The easiest way is to download your statements from your bank’s online banking program, being sure to include checking, savings and credit card accounts. Then assign all expenses to simple categories such as groceries, insurance, clothing, child care, etc. Include cash transactions in your list of expenses.
Once you see where your money is going every month, it’s easier to find areas to cut back on spending. Set a goal to reduce your spending to less than 90% of your income and put the rest into a savings plan.
To stick to your budget, it’s important to continue tracking your spending and make adjustments if needed. Did you get a raise? Consider splitting it and put half into your savings or use it to pay down a car or home loan.
See this article from Money Magazine for more information about creating and sticking to a budget.