When someone says budgeting some people find themselves cringing a little at the thought.
For many, the idea of a budget means less freedom and less fun. But the truth is that having a budget provides a lot more freedom in the long run.
To make things easier, you can use the word “plan” instead of “budget.” Everyone has made a plan at one time or another, whether it’s a small list of things to do, a get-together with friends, or a trip.
Making a budget is simply another form of making a plan. It’s figuring out how much you have coming in (income) and what expenses you have to cover (bills/spending). Your budget is a plan to have enough income to cover all your expenses while ensuring there’s enough left over to do what you really want to do.
Understanding how much money you have enables you to plan ahead for bigger things and provides you more freedom because you’ve already determined what you can afford and how you want to spend your money.
Budgeting can seem overwhelming but there are a lot of great tools and resources to help you get started.
Mint.com is free and does all the work for you. This online tool links to all of your accounts over a secure site and tracks income, spending and overall debt. There’s lot of features, including setting spending limits, email alerts, goal setting, and a mobile app.
Other ways of tracking your spending include resources such as Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar, Feedthepig.org, your bank or credit union’s online system, or a simple spreadsheet. Some people even use the envelope system where cash is added to envelopes each month and bills and expenses are paid directly from there.
No matter what system you find is right for you, it’s important to track your spending and know where your money goes. The more financially responsible you are, the more freedom you will find when it comes time to do the things you really want to do.
Note: some systems, including Aspire Servicing Center’s, do not support automated integration with sites like Mint.com and may require you to manually input your info.
Contributed by: Iowa College Access Network
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