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June 2012
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Making and Sticking to a Household Budget
Track your spending and save for the future

Those who build wealth have learned the trick of spending less money than they make. This simple idea may sound too easy to be true, but it is the key to financial security. Fortunately, making and sticking to a household budget is something anyone can learn to do with a few simple tips and tricks.
Track your money
One great way to create a household budget is to start by tracking your current income and expenses. You can use a spreadsheet, personal finance software or even a notebook. The key is to get in the habit of writing down all the money you earn and all the money that you spend.
Create categories
It’s easier to track your income and expenses if you divide them up into basic categories. You can create categories for monthly expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, student loans, dining out and entertainment. As you spend money, keep your receipts and mark each expense in the appropriate category. If you earn income from multiple sources, you can categorize that as well.
Establish goals
When setting up your budget tracking, it’s a good idea to think about financial goals as well. Maybe you want to put a certain amount of your income into a savings account or retirement savings plan. If you have credit card debt or other loans, you might want to set a goal for paying them off faster. Add a category for each of your goals alongside your other expenses.
Assess your spending
After tracking your income and expenses for a full month, take a good look at where your money is going. Check to see if you earned more money than you spent. Did you have enough money left to put toward your goals? Are you surprised to see how much you're spending on any particular category?
Adjust your budget
Now that you know where your money is going, it’s time to make allowances for how much you want to spend on each category. Look at each expense category and decide if that’s the amount you want to spend each month. You may not be able to change things like your rent or utility payments, but you can put limits on dining out or other entertainment.
Keep tracking
After you have set monthly allowances for each expense category, you must keep tracking your spending to make sure you stay on target. This might be difficult at first, but it will become easier with practice. As you continue to track your spending, you will find ways to gradually adjust your plan and develop your ideal budget.
Though making and sticking to a household budget may seem like a lot of work, it will be worth the effort once you start meeting your financial goals and seeing your savings grow. Take the time to track your spending now so you can build your wealth in the future.

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