Step 4: Design & Plan Your Budget
Many people don’t like the word “budget” because they think it means limitations, deprivation and no money to spend on the fun stuff. Relax, your budget is your spending plan – it will allow you to live within your means, avoid the stress of money troubles and give you the freedom to make choices with what you have. Most importantly, a budget will allow you to map your way to reaching your goals. Remember the goals you created in Step 1?
Before you can go any further, you need to ensure that your expenses are not more than your income. This is where you need to make some choices based on what you learned when you tracked your spending and when you separated your needs from your wants. Expenses include everything you spend your money on, not just the bills. Money you deposit to your children’s RESP is an expense. Money you deposit into your savings account for your vacation next year is also an expense.
Turn back to your Budget Worksheet that you filled out, and use the “revised” column to make your budget balance – your total spending can not be more than your total income. Also, ask yourself, will this budget allow me to reach my goals? This might mean that you are not able to spend as much in one area of your budget as you did in the past. Your money could be needed somewhere else in your budget. If you have a surplus, you need to make some choices about what to do with the extra money and may want to add it to your savings for now.