What is budgeting?
A budget is an estimation of income and expenses over a specified future period of time and is usually compiled and re-evaluated periodically (within a certain period of time).
Some people underestimate the role of budgeting in their life. However, this is how they can manage your monthly expenses, prepare for emergencies, and be able to afford some things you need without going into debt.
Keeping track of how much you earn and spend doesn't require you to be good at math, and doesn't mean you can't buy the things you want. It just means that you'll know where your money goes, you'll have greater control over your finances. Let our budget calculator help you in this matter.
Who needs a budget?
Creating and using a budget is not just for those who need to closely monitor their cash flows from month to month because "money is tight." Almost everyone, including people with large paychecks and plenty of money on their accounts, should keep track of their budget.
Budgeting is a wonderful tool for managing your finances, but many people think it's not for them. As was mentioned before, budgeting is a great way to find out where your money goes. Knowing not only your income but expenses as well makes you much better at decision-making. You'll be able to find plenty of room for improvement.
How to budget?
In general, traditional budgeting starts with tracking expenses and building an emergency fund. The emergency fund acts as a buffer and should replace the use of credit cards for emergency situations to eliminate debt growth. For this purpose, you can first try using our online budget calculator.
The key is to build the fund at regular intervals, consistently devoting a certain percentage of each paycheck toward it, and if possible, putting in whatever you can spare on top. This will get you to think about your spending, too.
The more space you can create between your expenses and your income, the more income you will have to pay down debt and invest.
In a few words, good budgeting is to earn more than you spend and use that amount to put you in a better position by eliminating debts and growing savings.
Sticking to budget
The point of the budget is to help you build the financial future that many people are dreaming of. So think about where you wanna be. A special calculator will help to estimate your finances and monitor your budget. Start from figuring out how much you spend on needs and desires. Follow your budget to achieve your life goals, and PocketGuard has all the necessary tools.
Sometimes, people buy things that they do not really need. That is because they are not sure how to set priorities. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this stuff?" Remember, adding your debt load will not place you in a good position. The online calculator would help you keep on your spending. It is necessary to understand how you spend your cash and why. Are all purchases justified?
It's difficult to predict how much money you'll need in every category of life. Having a regular check on how you've budgeted is critical. If the current approach isn't working, tweak it. Use historical data to understand your spending habits. You can then improve your buying behavior and start saving more money.
Once again, make sure you keep your long-term financial goals in the picture.
What’s your income?
Figure out your after-tax income. If you get a regular paycheck, the amount you receive is probably it, but if you have automatic deductions for a 401(k), savings, and health and life insurance, add those back in to give yourself a true picture of your savings and expenditures. Add the above mentioned income to our online calculator, and start making your monthly budget from scratch.
However, if you work as a freelancer, have side hustles, earn hourly pay or overtime or rely on tips or commission, your monthly income is a bit harder to calculate. Take your income information for the past six months and calculate the average. This will be your starting point. You can adjust it anytime later.
The 50/30/20 is a simplified plan where you break down your expenses into three categories: needs, wants, and savings.
50% of your income should go towards needs, 30% should be devoted to wants, and 20% should get put into savings and emergency funds.
Dividing needs from wants can be tricky. "Needs" include your only vital necessities. You might think that groceries are a need, but there are items that are "wants." For example, the fruits and vegetables you buy at the store are a need, while the choco candies are a "want." Be honest to yourself. Needs and wants shouldn't be mixed. Keep it in mind while entering costs to the budgeting calculator.
The envelope budgeting method involves allocating a set amount of cash to each budget category for the month. This is hard but it works. To estimate the needed amounts you need some historical data to check how much money you've previously spent for each category. Enter how much you spend by each of the categories listed in our budget calculator.
The envelope method works especially well for people who find themselves overspending: swipes first and does the math later. Instead, actually seeing how much money is left in the relevant envelope can be a great border from spending more than you’d planned.
You can track as many spending categories as you want but try to keep the process clear. Too much is not good.
Zero-based budgeting is a method that has you give every dollar a job. The goal is that your income minus your expenses equals zero by the end of the month. This method is extremely effective but really hard to manage. You can use the same expense categories and amounts every month. It looks the same as envelope budgeting, which involves distributing money for different expense categories into envelopes, but nudges you to allocate the entire income. Simply saying, to follow this rule, you would have to get $0 in your “In My Pocket” while setting up our budget calculator.
The zero-based budget keeps you aware of how much money flows in and out. This can prevent you from spending what you don’t have. Still, this technique might be complicated to master for dummies. Besides, it requires plenty of time. Thus, we have an alternative. We offer to start with more simple techniques like 50/30/20.
Compare and Adjust
Compare your expenses to your income. If your spending is lower than or equal to your income - your budget is balanced. It is easy to check while working with the PocketGuard calculator online.
In the opposite case, you need to adjust your spending. You can do this by playing with any of the non-fixed expenses.
There is one thing about your adjustments that you should keep in mind. How would you define money that you spend on entertainment and grocery? Economists would call such expenses a variable spending. Concentrate on it prior to decreasing your savings for your financial goals. Hopefully, you know your objectives so far. Our tool is the way to hit your targets with the minimum effort.
Trim your expenses
It’s important to keep an eye on your budget and its limitations to avoid troubles and loans. Your expenses should not outweigh revenues. If it happens, you should better use our tool for help. However, it is better to start controlling your finances in advance. Our solution helps to estimate how much money you’re spending on the things you want but don’t necessarily need.
For example, a Starbucks coffee costs about $5. Let's say you get it 2-3 times a week. See the room for improvement? Good!
Another way to cut your expenses is to see if you can lower the cost of services you use. Make adjustments in the calculator to get your “In My Pocket” number positive.
Every month is different
Some months you’ll have to budget for things like school supplies or car maintenance. Other months you’ll be saving for things like holidays, special occasions, vacations, and more.
However, try not to cross the threshold. Do not overspend as those are not life priorities. Keep those things from sneaking up on you.
Be sure to adjust your budget each month as things change and edit the calculator that way. This will protect you from stress. Have a plan to make things predictable.
Get everyone involved
Ensuring that you aren't the only person within the household keeping a budget. Make sure to get the entire family involved. This is crucial for sticking to a budget.
Talks about money are never easy. Unless you have enough to buy all the stuff around. If you have a family budget, gather all members during one evening to discuss it. Tell them how much money you all have this month to spend on all the things planned and decide on some limits. This is important because every related person should keep in mind all those numbers to avoid overspending.
Once again. Talks about money are not easy. Be patient explaining the family budget and why everyone should stick to it. This may cause some stress along the way. Especially if you didn't budget before. But you are the only person who can take care of business and you'll do it for sure.
Analyze your data on a monthly basis
Setting SMART goals and tracking your spending habits is the most important part of budgeting. Analyzing this data each month can provide immediate feedback that allows you to tweak your budget.
Check the "Insights" tab to see your spending by category, merchant, hashtags, and other reports. This data allows you to make informed decisions. You can check these reports more often but try to keep in mind the bigger picture.
Don't forget about leisure
Make sure you set aside money for entertainment and leisure in our budget calculator.
You were working hard to earn your money. You did an amazing job by sticking to a budget. You deserve to treat yourself from time to time. Such small things will keep you mentally healthy and happy.
Have a coffee in a place you like, hit a movie or a game. Do anything that makes you happy. Budgeting is not about stress. Budgeting is about being smart about money to make you feel comfortable all the time.