There are countless resources available to help you create and stick to a monthly household budget, but is managing your household finances on a monthly basis really enough? A household budget is not one size fits all, and it’s not static. Consider a quiet month in the spring versus the months leading up to the holidays. Your spending habits are probably very different week to week and even day to day, and you are likely saving toward different goals. Creating a household budget for different increments of time helps you stay on track all year round. Here are 5 budgets that can help you manage your spending and help you stick to your savings goals.
From ordering lunch with your colleagues to picking up a few extra ingredients for dinner, it’s easy to lose track of how much money you spend on a daily basis. Having each member of your household set a daily personal budget can help you all manage your spending and stay on track. You might also find a daily spending cap helpful if you live in an area with lots of dining options. Knowing that you only have $30 to spend on your dinner meal can help you narrow down your choices, and keeping your daily personal budget in mind can help motivate you to make your lunch before running out the door.
Many people opt for a monthly budget over a weekly household budget, but unless you regularly plan your meals and after work events at the start of each month, you might find yourself off track very quickly. And with many full-time employees on a bi-weekly payment schedule, creating a household budget for pay and non-pay weeks can be helpful. You might choose to set up autopay so that your bills are taken care of during pay week, leaving the remainder to spend on essentials and to transfer into savings the following week.
One week’s worth of transactions is also a lot more manageable than a full month’s, and you’ll likely remember what you spent money on and why much more clearly. Budgeting on a weekly basis is also a good way to hold yourself accountable for your purchases. It’s easy to shrug off a $6 gourmet coffee you bought three weeks ago, and then let yourself buy another within the month. If you’re setting your budget weekly, however, you’ll feel that $6 much more acutely and might be more likely to brew your coffee at home.
The monthly household expenses budget is the budget that most people are familiar with, and for good reason. While it’s important to stay on top of your daily and weekly spending, mapping out your monthly household expenses will include planning bill payments, gifts and local events.
You should also consider setting monthly savings goals, though you don’t have to save the same amount every month. In the last week of each month, take some time to evaluate the spending needs listed above and determine how much of your income you can afford to put away. You can even set up automatic transfers into savings so you won’t be tempted by the extra cash in your checking account.
You might be ready to skip from your monthly budget all the way out to your annual budget, but mapping out your spending and savings on a quarterly basis gives you a good balance of foresight and flexibility, especially when it comes to mid-range purchases. If you know that you will soon need a new laptop or minor repair in your home, creating your household budget over the next three months around that estimate can help you stay on target to achieve your overall goals.
A three-month period is also a long enough stretch of time to spot troublesome spending habits, but not so long that they can’t be remedied. Give yourself a quick evaluation each quarter to make sure you’re keeping your spending in check, your savings as ambitious as possible and contributing what you can to your retirement account.
This is the big kahuna. Your annual budget is where you will work in big ticket items like travel, a new vehicle, moving, college tuition and more. You should also use this time to envision yourself one, five and even 10 years down the road. How will your savings goals change? Are you just starting out in your career or are you getting ready to wind down? Will you be starting a family, putting children through college or caring for aging parents? Whether these are life events that you have been budgeting for over the past few years or they are new to you, projecting what you will spend over the next 12 months will help you manage your other purchases, investments and savings.
As we all know, opportunities and challenges arise, and it takes planning and some flexibility to navigate them confidently. Creating a household budget on an annual, quarterly and monthly basis along with budgeting out your weekly and daily spending can help you identify where money can be pulled from should something come up. It can also help keep you on track to meet your savings goals. Find out how much you should budget for your household with our FutureTrack budgeting tools, then come in and see us to keep your savings goals on track.