The Bank Note's savvy readers came through again with smart ways to create a monthly budget. Thanks to everyone who emailed us. Ten of our readers each received a $25 Nationwide Bank Visa® gift card for these helpful tips.
List your monthly expenditures for the absolute necessities - car, house, electricity, insurance. Then list discretionary costs, such as entertainment, cable TV, eating out. Decide your NEEDS as opposed to your WANTS.
- Cheryl B.
Pay attention to details. Start by writing down every dollar that you spend for 2 weeks. Putting it in writing will make you more aware of what you're spending.
- Jerry B.
Divide your expenses into groups. Then justify each group of expenses. Do they reflect your values? Be sure to live a little and save a little. If you save with a goal in mind, you will become a more aggressive saver. Make provisions for charity giving, no matter how small.
- Rose N.
Be sure to include things that only happen once a year (like school registration fees, membership dues, subscriptions) and things that occur unexpectedly (like car maintenance). Go through your family calendar and your checking account to help you remember. Save for these events throughout the year, so they won't be a surprise.
- Tom S.
I get paid every two weeks, but when I created my budget I based it on two paychecks per month. This means that I get two "extra" paychecks every year. With those checks, I can pay down credit card debt, build an emergency fund, fund a Roth IRA or make extra principal payments on a mortgage.
- Kathryn K.
When I budget, I trade hours for dollars. I try to judge the value of something I want to buy by how many hours it takes me to earn that money. For example, if I make $10 an hour, I try to think of all the taxes that come out of my check before I see any money, and then realize a $20 dinner out takes me roughly 3 hours to earn. That helps me maintain motivation to stay within my means.
- Allen V.
Sit down every week or a designated time with your family or partner and outline your budget as a team.
- Jack E.
I keep a spreadsheet of what I spend for fixed expenses (like the house payment) and variable expenses (utilities, groceries, insurance). This allows me to develop a household budget based on my seasonal patterns of spending. It helps change the unexpected to expected. Once I have identified when the infrequent recurring bills are due, I can create a budget that allows for me to plan for these expenses in the month they occur. This way I know that if I have extra available this month, I need to set it aside for that larger bill coming in 3 months.
- Duane B.
Start by prioritizing. Determine your income for the month, and then figure out how much you can afford for necessities like rent, utilities and groceries. Don't forget to pay yourself by putting something into savings each month. Next, include some rainy-day funds each month to cover unexpected repairs, occasional gifts and clothing. Divide what is left into entertainment and splurge items. The main idea is to stay within your parameters for your budget.
- Dawn B.
First you have to be honest with yourself about what you spend money on. Then, don’t forget all the incidentals, such as haircuts, prescriptions, medical co-pays, pet supplies.
- Dorothea H.
Feature story ideas
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