You did it! You graduated college and entered the real world. Hate to break it to you, but the real world is expensive. Suddenly, you’re canceling brunch to pay bills, when you never would’ve considered doing that before in your life. It can be so hard to find the right balance between having funds for fun and having funds to live. All it takes is one weekend of going a little too hard at the bars and the next thing you know, you’re hitting up your parents for rent money. Unfortunately for a lot of us, we never got to learn how to budget before now and it shows. Well, here are a few tips and tricks to creating your budget so you can get a hang of this adulting thing.
1. Take A Good Look At Your Finances
The first thing you need to do is figure out how much it costs to live a month. Take all of your finances and tally them up. How much did you pay for rent last month? Electricity? Car insurance? Whatever bills you have, make a long list of all of the bills you have to pay and how much they usually cost. That total is the dollar amount for what it costs for you to live a month. Remember, that’s excluding your fun funds.
2. Figure Out Your Income
Now that you know how much it costs to live a month, you have to figure out how much you make a month. If you’re not on salary, go through your last two or three paychecks and get an average of how much you’re making. If you’re not making enough to live off of, well, you’re going to need to make some changes. Regardless, you now have a better idea of where you are financially.
3. Start A Savings Account
After you’ve figured out how much you have left over each month, take a percentage of that and set it aside. DON’T TOUCH IT. Put it into a savings account and don’t even look at it. As far as you’re concerned, it doesn’t exist. Not even for rainy days. Trust me, one day, you’ll be glad this account exists.
4. Pay Yourself First
Always make sure you have some money set aside for you. These are your “fun funds.” It might sound dumb, but you need to have money set aside for yourself. If you don’t, you’re never going to be able to stick to a budget. But if you know you have money for whatever it is that you like to do, you’re more likely to stick to your budget.
5. Shop Smart
This is going to be the most challenging piece of advice I can give you because I know how easy it is to walk into Target and lose track of not only time, but also money. But you’re going to have to be stricter with yourself if you’re going to stick to the budget. Only buy what you need. This takes a lot of practice, but if you can master it, then you’re one step closer to mastering the art of budgeting.
6. Hold Yourself Accountable
At the end of the day, the only person that can make sure you stick to your budget is you. Sure, your parents can stay on top of you and try to hold you accountable, but they’re not with you every time you use it. And you’re a college grad now. This is all on you. So make the decision to budget and then stick to it.