Why a Budget is Critical to Building Wealth and How to Start

do i need a budgetIt seems like one of the most hated aspects of personal finance is doing a budget.

Most people hear the word and cringe. they quickly begin to wonder what other wonderful things they could do besides making a personal budget.

Things like visit the in-laws, eat worms and clean the toilets come to mind!

Business owners have the added hassle of not always knowing exactly what they have for incoming income. Thus giving us one more excuse in doing a budget.

This dislike of a budget poses the question – Do you have to do a budget?

The answer would be no, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, except maybe visit your in-laws.

But I would pose a different question to you:

How do you expect to build wealth if you have no idea if you are overspending?

When in college students plan what classes they will take and when. Down to exactly how many classes they need per semester. Then they watch how they are doing with requirements in order to graduate on time. 

Your money is no different if you don’t plan for what should happen to it and then monitor it.  You can end up way off track and delayed in building lasting wealth.

In addition to knowing if you are on track or not, budgeting helps you decide where to cut expenses if you need to.

It is hard to make cuts if you have no clue where you are overspending.  This is very similar to when someone is trying to cut back on calories, if they do not know where they are eating or drinking their extra calories then it is very hard to know where to pull back.  Only by tracking your money or food consumption can you know where you are splurging!

So how do you get started with a personal budget?

Make a Commitment To Yourself

The first step is to decide that you are ready and willing to do what it takes to compile and follow a budget.

Without this initial commitment to making the change you will not always have the will or desire to keep going when it is difficult.  Write down your goal on a piece of paper or in a journal, add why you want to do this and then sign it.  When you are having a tough day go back, read why you are doing this and look at that signature as a promise that you made to yourself.

Create Your Budget

The second step is to actually do the budget.

Gather your expense data from the past month or two and begin to compile a budget for the upcoming month.  If you do not have any expense information begin to collect that information over the next month.  Set up an envelope or folder that allows you to collect all the receipts and statements.  Use this the next month to set up a budget.

Recreate your budget every month, not all months are created equal so your budget should not be the same every month.  If you find that something comes up during the month, do not give up on the budget just re-adjust and keep moving.

Remember the college student does not stay perfectly on track for four years, but they do review and adjust to get to where they need to go.

There are many ways to do a budget, make sure you pick the one that best fits your personality and income patterns. This article covers some of the Types of Budgets.

Finally, give yourself permission to make mistakes and be patient.  This is not easy right away, so give yourself time.  You did not learn how to do your job in a day, this is no different, there are too many moving parts for you to get it right at the very start.

Electronic Options:

Luckily with the advancement of what you can do online there are now options outside of pen and paper. Some options include Mint, Personal Capital, You Need a Budget, and while not online it is electronic consider Quicken.

There are also many budgeting apps for your phone. Find the one you like and follow.

Don’t hate the budget; it does not have to be worse than cleaning toilets.  It will however help you reach your wealth goals faster and easier.