Like many others, I am setting financial goals and budgeting to ensure that by Dec 31, 2011 I will be in better shape than I was at the close of 2010. Some of us come up with new budgets and financial plans as new year’s resolutions, but we see them fall apart before the middle of the year. Here are a few things I do each year that may also help you build a budget that wont buckle in 2011.
Identify the Budget Buster of 2010
We are each guilty of having the one vice that always seems to bust the budget. As for me, breaking out the debit card for fast food was the financial termite. Going forward, I will budget $50 a week (cash) for eating out an that will help slow the bleeding of popping out the debit card.
To help you identify your budget buster, review your debit and credit card purchases over the last few months. Look for items, excluding utilities and groceries, that makes up more than 5% of your purchases. Review those options and identify the issue, so you can rectify.
Budgeting is not fun if you cannot enjoy your money. We all work hard for our income, so playing hard should be included in your financial plan. In your new budget, be sure to allocate enough money for your entertainment fund. This could include trips to the movies, date nights or even partying with your friends. You should have fun, but make sure you plan ahead of time.
Look for deals
I am always looking for ways to save money and move it to other places like loan payments. Call the cable company and check with your apartment complex for specials they may be running for the month. Applying $15 or $20 of extra income a month to your car payment or student loan can be the difference in hundreds of dollars in loan interest payments.
Build a Reasonable Buffer
Conservative budgets are always best, however be sure not to be too strict in areas that fluctuate often. Be sure to budget an additional 5% in your utility and grocery funds, because you just never know.
Budget to the Last Penny
In practicing what I preach, I like to budget to the last penny. Never leave one unspent. Anything extra, just move it to savings!
I hope these few items help you build a stronger budget for 2011. Look for Part 2 of Building a Budget that won’t Buckle, where I will share with you tools and websites that will help you build the type of budget that works best for you.