4. Finding out if monthly expenses match monthly take-home pay.
Compare your total expenses with your take-home pay. A couple of results and scenarios could be staring you in the face:
Positive result: Income more than expense – you can either spend or save!
Negative result: Expense more than income – spending more than you have, you might have to cut costs and try to save some money to cover the bases!
Whichever of these outcomes you are faced with, knowing is better than not knowing. For some this might bring little comfort and relief, but people in general, find this exercise useful to make an unknown more measurable. It makes us both accountable and wanting to act, faster and that sense of urgency and momentum is just what the budget process needs!
5. Finding ways to balance your budget.
Earlier it was stated that a good budget would mean income would be equal to expenses. Having a small surplus is no guarantee by any means. You might need this to cover and unexpected rise in oil and gas prices or a larger grocery bill due to a party you are hosting at home.
This almost brings the concept home of a sliding scale, flexibility and discretionary buffer categories in budgets to absorb this give-and-take roller-coaster ride that is budgeting.
The good news is whether you are in the red so to speak or just scraping by, managing to save nothing or maybe a little, or even a lot, this process will highlight areas where your attention is needed right away. It gives direction and purpose and assists families to formulate their spending plans, goals, re-visit their needs, dreams and goals.
Balancing the budget is no easy task. Here are a few steps that I can suggest to make your life a little easier:
- Find out how much you need to cut from your expenses
- Decide you can make cuts in your expenses and be detailed
- Re-balance your income and expenses after you've made these cuts
A word to the wise: Do not make cuts in your budget that you cannot live with in real life. It is extremely important to remain realistic and keep your real-time expenses and living realities in the forefront of your mind when you make these decisions.