Managing your financial accounts and monthly expenses doesn’t have to result in hours of gawking at spreadsheets, or pencil-and-paper calculations. Better yet, it can even be encouraging to budget your own expenses. This gives you a realistic outlook of how your money is spent, what savings you can have each month, and where one should cut back on spending too much.
In today’s shaky economy, knowing an accurate range for regular expenses is worth having on hand. There are formulas, programs, even online apps that will help calculate the average rate you’re spending each month.
From Oprah and Suze Orman comes the Suze’s Budget Calculator. This site allows users to input known expenses (rent or mortgage, car insurance, college etc.) along with “special expenses” like birthday parties or nights out, and includes a section to place your annual income. The result, a monthly budget amount and a great basis to go on.
There’s another quick way to manage your money. It’s called the 60 Percent Solution. This budgeting theory states that regular monthly expenses should fall within 60% of your gross income, leaving room for extra savings or “fun” money. Also, if you’re a renter, you want to have a minimum of six months worth of rent saved up, just in case layoffs are looming. Depending on what city you live in, this might be easier said than done.
As quick and user friendly as these hints can be, to receive a closely accurate estimation, we recommend using some more old school approaches and working these figures out on your own.
1. First off, tally up all your bank statements, pay stubs and bills from the last year, including investment totals. Try to figure out a monthly goal, which will include regular monthly bills like house or car/commuter payments. If you have a live-in partner, combine monthly incomes.
2. Take a look at the totals you have so far. Which fall under “needs” and “wants”? That 63” flat screen you’ve been looking to upgrade to might seem like a great idea, but now probably isn’t the right time. Bills are the most important, obviously, including monthly utilities. Include any type of car expenses, insurance, food and credit card payments to your “needs” pile.
3. How much is coming in? “You should be making at least three times as much as your basic rent or mortgage. If you and your partner see that your current expenses exceed your monthly income, you need to talk about making serious cutbacks,” according to TheNest.
4. Finally, cut out those unnecessary expenses, even those which do not exceed your income. The idea behind this budget and money management is to not only live check to check, but to plan for a future where savings is an option.
5. Keeping in mind that monthly bills can range in price, this process should result in a more formal and close estimation of expenses, helping to manage your money.
Figure out what needs to go, even if it’s extra cable channels or all those restaurant excursions. Cutting back now will mean a financially stable future.