The key to debt free budgeting is first of all to realize that you need a budget. Whether you are married with a family, a single mom, or a student, you need to have a financial plan and stick to it. Surprisingly, the majority of families live without a budget, and this could be contributing to the rise in credit card debt and bankruptcies. Here are some tips to consider when thinking about debt free budgeting:
1. Evaluate your current spending patterns. First, look through
your bills and write down what you spend on housing, car payments, electricity,
credit card payments, and so on. Also, consider where your extra cash goes. How
often do you eat out? Do you buy lunch every day? Do your children buy lunch at school. Make sure you
consider every area of spending and write it down. This will help you determine
how much to budget for each category, and what you can eliminate.
2. Don’t forget expenses that you pay yearly. For example, if you pay your auto insurance, life insurance, or property taxes yearly, be sure to include that in your budget calculations. It is important to plan for every expenditure.
3. Include a savings plan. Even if it is only $5-10 a week, you need to plan to save, or it will never happen. Set up a savings account for this purpose. Online savings accounts often offer the highest interest rates.
4. If your expenses are more than your income, evaluate where you can save money. Perhaps you can trim your entertainment budget a little. For example, rent a movie instead of going to the movies. Or maybe you can save money on television by switching services or going without cable TV. Look into your gas expenses—can you carpool with a friend or co-worker? Could you eat at home more instead of going out to eat? Be creative in the ways in which you can save money.
5. Be sure everyone in the family is aware of the budget. If you are married, debt free budgeting requires that you have your spouse on board with the budget. Make your older children aware of the cuts in spending that may be required for your family. This is a great opportunity to teach them about responsibility in finances.
6.Be motivated and have a positive attitude about your new budget. A negative attitude is one of the biggest reasons that people cannot follow a financial plan. Instead of being depressed that you can’t go shopping at the mall every week, explore yard sales instead. Find low cost ways for family fun. Look at saving money as a challenge.
7. Explore budgeting software. There is a lot of fun computer software available now. For example, a software program is available to help you use the envelope budgeting system online, and incorporate it into your checking account. This saves time and money in the long run.
In conclusion, debt free budgeting requires a big commitment on your part and on the part of each family member. The results are rewarding because you know you are doing your part to save money and live debt free.