All About Budget

The budget is the basis for any form of financial stability, from household to business to country.

So what is a budget and how will it help?

It’s not a magic fix to money problems, quite the reverse, it is a tool to help you see where the problems are. If you’re overspending then a budget will help you see where your problems are, but it won’t fix them. That’ll be down to you to spend less. There’s no other way to do it.

But it can make a big difference in telling you where your money is going. That £2 a day on a coffee, £3 on a sandwich and £8 on a pack of cigarettes? That comes to £4745 per year. Surprised? That’s where the budget will help you.

How do you set up a budget?

There are two routes to go down, you can either build your own budget or use a template. I would always recommend building your own budget, it’s tailored to exactly what you want see and is as simple as you make it. The problem with templates is that they can be incredibly hard to customise and get the information that would be useful to you.

That being said, there are good budget templates available on programmes like Microsoft Excel, there are great apps available for all phones and plenty of websites that will let you budget online for free. If you’d rather stick with something pre-made then this is the route to go down. Make sure you check out some reviews before committing to a format. You don’t want to waste time setting up your finances in an app that you stop using after a week!

From here I will focus on the very basic steps to create your first budget.

Step 1

The most basic version of a budget is simply a list of your expenses. Make a note of everything you spend, from the pack of chewing gum you bought when walking through town to the new car you’ve waited years for. Write it down. This will start the habit of noticing what you spend. How many times do you spend that 50 pence on chewing gum? How long did you save for the car? The simple act of recording this will start you being more conscious about your expenses.

If you find yourself forgetting then follow this one simple step.

Keep. Your. Receipts.

If you’re ever asked if you want a receipt, the answer is yes. You don’t throw that receipt away until you’ve recorded the expense. With pockets bulging with receipts, or a pile building up on the desk you will soon remember to keep records.

Step 2

Once you’ve got in the habit of recording all your expenditure it’s time to dig into that raw data a bit more. Divide your expenses into categories, just broad ones to start with as you can worry about subcategories later. A simple division would look something like this.

  • Food
  • Travel
  • Bills
  • Rent
  • Miscellaneous

Start recording each receipt into a different category. This is the time that using a spreadsheet becomes a lot easier than a paper copy but if you’re not familiar with the software then stick to paper!

Over the course of a month, this will allow you to see how much you’re spending on each category.

Step 3

Now is the point that we get a bit more complicated. It’s time to set your budgets for each category.

Some of the categories, such as rent or bills, will be for a fixed amount so these can’t be set. So take your whole monthly income and take away these fixed costs. The remainder is what you have left to allocate. Let’s have an example using the categories above.

Alan earns £1000 per month.

He pays £500 in rent and £200 in bills.

As these are both set costs you need to take these off the £1000 before splitting the budget.

This will leave Alan with £300 per month to split between the final categories of Food, Travel and Miscellaneous.

How you do this split is entirely down to your circumstances but make sure you give yourself an exact figure to aim for!

Step 4

Sticking to your budget is the hardest part. Once you’ve spent your allocation for the month you have to stop spending money in that category, although for obvious reasons this isn’t always possible. If you’ve no money in your budget for food and still a week to go before the end of the month then you can’t starve. But when you buy food, make sure that the extra comes out of the allowance for another category.

These imbalances will happen frequently to start with as you learn which things cost you the most. Take a look back at where you’ve overspent and underspent at the end of the month and adjust your budgets accordingly. Prioritise the things that are the most important, food being a primary example, but don’t go overboard. If you can buy food on a lower budget by shopping more sensibly then maybe that extra money could go towards something more fun?

As you get used to budgeting you’ll get better at it in several ways. After a while you’ll know roughly how to split the budget into categories and which ones need more money in but you’ll also get a feel for what you can afford within your budget. You’ll automatically check yourself when shopping, to ask whether this means you’ll overspend and once you have set targets it is much easier to motivate yourself to meet them.

The important thing to remember is that budgeting is a habit. It takes time to form the right behaviour patterns but when you start following the process automatically the difference can be fantastic.

Budgeting gives you control over your finances and gives you the ability to make informed decisions about what to spend your money on and when you can afford it. Some of you will be content to keep this to a monthly level, being assured that you can meet your bill payments. Some of you will end up with a much more complicated budget breaking down your expenditure into weekly and even daily intervals, matching your costs down to a penny. Either way, it can give you more comfort and peace of mind when managing your finances.

 

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How To Save But Still Entertain

Are you currently looking for an effective way to get rid of your cable subscription? In the past few years, some new alternatives have emerged. These are viable and will allow you to maintain your entertainment, while also saving money! Of course, only one of these options will be right for your particular situation. Below, you will be able to find a breakdown of these options.

Sling TV or KlowdTV

Some demand live television! Unfortunately, there aren’t many ways to watch live television online, without breaking the law. SlingTV and KlowdTV are two excellent options. KlowdTv is a little new to the game, but is quickly establishing itself as a leader. It offers a small number of channel options, but these can be purchased separately, which is definitely cool.

SlingTv is bigger and bolder. With this streaming service, you can watch all kinds of awesome channels, including AMC, SundanceTV and even HBO. Unfortunately, some have reported performance issues with the company’s service. However, they have improved their servers in the past few months, so they’re consistently getting better.

On-Demand Services

Also, there are many on-demand streaming services, such as NetFlix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video. Each of these is absolutely wonderful in their own way. As far as new content goes, Hulu offers the most current, but the other two are great alternatives. Each provides original content and some of the shows, including Orange Is The New Black, Moone Boy and Transparent, are great. If you happen to shop frequently with Amazon, you really should consider becoming a Prime Member.

This will save you money on shipping, allow you to receive your items more rapidly and give you access to hundreds of movies and television shows for free. Regardless of your choice, each option is significantly cheaper than any package offered by the majority of cable providers around the country.

Consider An Antenna

If you’re interested in cutting the cord all together, you could install an antenna in your home. You’ll need an over-the-air antenna. Thankfully, they’re fairly inexpensive. Take note that these antennas are no longer massively large like they used to be. Instead, they’re small and compact. In fact, the majority of them will rest on your television stand and won’t be too much of an eye-sore.

With over-the-air- antennas, it is possible to receive twenty or thirty channels for free. The quality and quantity of these channels will depend on your location, as well as the quality of the antenna selected. Still, for twenty or thirty dollars, you’ll never have to pay for cable ever again and that is a wonderful thought.

Overall

At the end of the day, there are plenty of viable options out there and you will definitely want to consider them all. By utilizing one or more, you will be able to enjoy your favorite shows and movies at home, without shelling out fifty, sixty or more dollars a month for hundreds of channels that you’ll never watch!

 

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How To Review Budget

Regardless of whether you opt to become a leader, or prefer to remain an involved, concerned and committed member of an organization, your ability and effectiveness will be positively enhanced, and your actual degree of personal responsibility, is often directly related to your willingness, ability and understanding of the essentials of organizational budgeting. While nearly every group mandates creating and approving an annual budget, very few do so in a way that actually makes the group more effective. Wouldn’t it make sense, therefore, if groups dedicated time and effort, to training their constituents, and especially their leadership (and most involved and concerned members), to all the essentials and necessitates of the various aspects of budgeting, and how to use it effectively? With that in mind, this article will briefly discuss five things you should know and understand, before you prepare, consider and review a budget.

1. What are the needs, priorities and goals for the organization? Budgets should never be created in a vacuum, but rather must be tools for evaluating needs and priorities, and allocating the best proportion of time, money and other resources, in the most efficacious manner. Since effective groups constantly evolve, this is a significant reason why the method most used for creating budgets (which, unfortunately, is generally merely taking the previous year’s document, and adding a certain percentage). Great budgets address how a group should operate and create plans and programs, etc.

2. Carefully evaluate both revenues and expenditures: Are you optimally and efficiently raising revenues, as well as spending as you should, rather than falling into the trap of, too much, too little or just right? Is your fundraising performing as it should, and running on the proverbial, all cylinders? Avoid being myopic, and just cutting across the board, but rather, use zero-based budgeting, so you can evaluate every non-contractual area of either income or expense!

3. Review the actual revenues and expenses from the past two years: Don’t merely guess in some areas, or resort to either wishful thinking, or speculation. Look at what has been raised in the past, and pay particular heed to what’s been spent, and see if you can get more bang-for-the-buck.

4. What works and what needs addressing: This area of consideration is often a fine line, because while one must avoid panic and using the throw the baby out with the bathwater approach, similarly, you must realize that even great ideas often need a degree of tweaking, so they don’t appear to be stale, or merely the same-old-same-old. Remember how important it is to ask relevant questions, and get as much detail and explanation as possible, so you best understand what you are reviewing!

5. Make your budget a working, living document, guide and plan: A budget, and the entire process, can be perceived either as a living, working document, or merely a time consuming, relatively worthless one. The choice is yours! Prepare a quality budget, follow it, and use it to address goals and priorities, through the year.

Budgeting may not be the most interesting process or exercise, but it is an important and relevant one. It’s a matter of how seriously you take it, and how deeply you look at what’s going on around you!

 

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Save Money and Enjoy Life

Did you know that there are some simple ways to save money by doing ordinary things? There most certainly are! What in the world am I talking about? I will explain in this article.

My first tip is for when you go grocery shopping. Are you aware that the generic brands of the foods you normally buy are just as tasty as the name brands? This is true! In fact, very often the generic (or store-name brand) of a particular food item tastes better than the big name brand. Best of all they cost far less. Also at your supermarket, do not be afraid to buy whatever items they have on sale at the time. You can pick up some really great stuff this way. Remember to clip coupons out of your weekly local newspaper. Chances are good that your supermarket advertises in there. You can find out what is on sale and clip your special coupons at the same time.

Tip number two. Do not be afraid to shop at your neighborhood dollar or thrift store! Whether it is a big store like Walmart or Target or a smaller dollar store, you will get some incredibly good merchandise on items like clothing, household stuff, personal care merchandise, or edible goods. Many neighborhoods also have small, independently owned discount stores with wonderful deals. Just because you buy your products from a discount store does not mean they are inferior! Shopping at a thrift or discount store no longer carries the stigma it once did. More and more people are realizing you can save money on everyday items and still get good quality.

Do you know that it is possible to dine out now and then and not spend a fortune? How, you may ask? It is simple! Look in your local newspaper for specials they are running. Independent restaurants as well as fast food and mid-sized restaurant chains will frequently advertise this information. If you are online and/or use a Smart Phone, a lot of places will offer special coupons that you can use when you visit their establishment. Do not fear stopping in a buffet-oriented restaurant. Some of the best food can be sampled this way and will cost you less money. The same thing holds true of clothing and other retail stores. Look in your paper and online for special discounts and offers. A plethora of merchants now take advantage of Internet use to bring in customers. They will advertise special deals that you can print out or call up on your Android phone to buy their goods and save money at the same time.

Traveling on a budget! It is no longer necessary to stay at home and vegetate! It is entirely feasible to save money and travel at the same time. Websites such as Orbitz or Travelocity offer discounted airfares and lodging accommodations for exactly this purpose. Take advantage of them. It is also possible to buy some food and beverages at a local supermarket and store them, as many hotel rooms have small refrigerators. Then you can dine in your room or have a picnic at a nearby park. You will enjoy the views and save money by not eating out at restaurants on your whole vacation. Take advantage of these opportunities too! Save money and enjoy your lives at the same time! What could be better than that?

 

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