Being a single woman gives you the freedom to create your own path in life, but it also means that all the responsibility for managing your life falls on you as well. Whether you are just out of college, single by choice, or recently divorced, creating a budget can help you manage your finances and plan for your future. Read on to learn how you can create a budget and stay on top of your finances.
Things You'll Need
- Financial software or budget planning notebook
- Account statements
- Monthly billing statements
- Receipts from daily purchases
Get a clear picture of your current financial situation by gathering up bills, bank account statements, receipts and paystubs. Make a quick list of debts, monthly bills (utilities, rent, insurance and car payments), income, investments and savings. Also, you'll want to add up other expenditures, regardless of importance. Look over receipts to determine how much you spend for groceries, clothing, entertainment, fuel or public transportation, and even trivial items like a daily stop at Starbucks.
Use financial software, such as Quicken or MS Money, to track your finances. Most computers come with free financial software already installed, so you won't have to spend more to get this helpful tool. Once you have it set up, keeping track of finances becomes quick and easy.
Estimate monthly expenses (such as utilities). If you don't have an unlimited long distance plan for your land line, see if such a plan is available through your telephone company. Take advantage of budget programs through utility companies, where you pay a fixed amount each month and then either get a refund or make up the difference in the last month of the plan. Any account that carries a fixed monthly amount will be easier to budget for than accounts that fluctuate.
Add up all monthly expenditures, and monthly income. Subtract expenditures from income to see what exactly is left over. If there is zero or less than zero left, you will need to determine where you can make cuts in spending in order to meet all your financial obligations and still be able to buy groceries, fuel for your car or pay for public transportation in order to get around. While you still have to keep paying on debts (such as loans and credit cards), you need to make sure you have enough money to cover the essentials first. Once the rent, insurance and utilities are covered, then you can begin to work out a plan to pay off other debts.
Make a note of all wasteful spending that you have been doing. In order to have financial success in the future, you may have to make some small sacrifices in the present. How many times a week do you go out to eat? How much money do you spend in vending machines at work? Do you go shopping just for the sake of shopping, without having any need to buy things? These are activities that can be cut or limited in order to save precious dollars.
Make payment arrangements for debt accounts. Stop using credit cards—cut them up. If you can't afford to pay your credit card balance in full each month, you're charging entirely too much and putting yourself in a difficult situation. For auto, personal or student loans, you can always inquire about refinancing or payment adjustments, in order to meet your budget. You may not always succeed in getting payments reduced, but it never hurts to ask!
Manage your money according to how often you get paid. If you get paid weekly, divide your monthly expenditures by 4, and set aside that amount of money each week. Paid bi-weekly? Divide by 2 and do the same. It may take a few weeks to get it straight, but then you should be able to meet your monthly commitments on time without having to panic about where you'll get the money!
Keep your checking account balanced and monitor your finances daily, if you need to, in order to make budgeting a habit.