Budgeting is usually not very fun. It can be hard to say “no" to small impulse purchases. However, creating and sticking to a budget can help secure your financial stability. There are many guides and tips out there, but a lot of them can be confusing or unhelpful. Budgeting doesn't mean you have to cut all of the fun out of your life. It is just a tool to keep your spending to a reasonable level. Here are a few steps to take in creating and maintaining your personal budget.
1. First, record your spending habits
Pick a period of time you would like to set your budget to last. This is usually a recurring monthly budget, but you can base it on your paycheck cycle too. Once you've decided when your budget will reset, start recording your purchases over the chosen period of time. Record everything you buy from rent to groceries to movie tickets. This will allow you to see how much you're spending and where. It is especially useful if you have multiple bank accounts and credit cards. After the set period is over, you can use your spending log as the basis for your budget.
2. Next, choose what you can cut back on
Go through your spending log and decide what you can cut back on. Mark out your essentials first. You probably can't change your rent or mortgage payment. You should also set aside a decent amount for groceries, gas and other necessities. Then, you can choose what frivolous expenses to cut back on. Maybe you should stop eating out so much or stop spending so much on movies or video games. You can still have money set aside for fun and games, but make sure it's at an affordable level.
3. Create specific categories with set spending limits
This is often referred to as the envelope system. Create categories for all of your expenses. Rent, utilities and all other essential expenses can go into one category. You can make food another and so on. You can divide up your expenses however you want. Having separate small budgets for each area of your life will help you manage your budget more efficiently. Instead of obsessing over your monthly budget with every purchase, you can focus on the specific spending limits you've set in each category. It will reduce your stress and keep you on track.
4. Remember to save for emergency expenses and special purchases
Saving money is also important — just in case. Having a decent savings account can help you in many situations. When an emergency expense pops up, you'll be able to cover it with little issue. Saving regularly also lets you splurge on bigger purchases every once in a while. Maybe you desperately want to see your favorite singer's concert or a purchase a brand new game console. With your savings, you'll be able to afford the occasional splurge without breaking the bank.
- How to Make a Budget - 12 Personal Budgeting Tips for First Timers ›
- How to Create a Budget (Even If You Suck At Budgeting) ›
- 7 Secrets To Creating a Successful Budget | Bankrate.com ›
- HOW TO MAKE A BUDGET | USING THE ENVELOPE SYSTEM ... ›
- How to Create a Budget (with Examples) - wikiHow ›
- How to Build a Budget - NerdWallet ›
When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.