The holidays are behind you, but chances are paying the bill is not. Starting the New Year with a thoughtful spending plan can help you make progress throughout the year. Include your entire family in the process to help ensure they are on board with this goal.
Plan in Advance
Planning for holiday shopping should be part of your regular budget. Starting with last year’s spending history, document necessary expenses such as mortgage, insurance, transportation, food, utilities, etc. Determine where you might be able to cut expenses. Subscriptions, dining out and convenience purchases, such as coffee should be considered. Then add savings goals and some disposable income. Be sure to save monthly toward holiday spending, so you won’t have to rely on credit.
Track Every Dollar
Now work the plan. The key to successful budgeting is recording all your expenses. Choose a recording system that works best for you. Electronic methods like a spreadsheet or bookkeeping software will allow you to create reports to easily summarize your monthly and yearly progress. There are several online options, that can connect directly to your bank accounts. Choose a system that will be easy for you to stay faithful in updating your spending.
At the end of the day place all receipts in a designated space. Don’t forget to hang on to receipts for cash purchases.
Remember that creating a budget isn’t very helpful if you don’t track how much you spend. So log your receipts regularly to update your spending against your budget. Monitor your savings goals, too. Update your records weekly or monthly and you’ll be grateful for these routine updates at the end of the year when it’s time to prepare next year’s budget.
To increase your chances of success, scrutinize your progress each month—not any longer than that—and share what you’ve learned with family members. Together you can review where you could improve and encourage everyone to keep a lid on impulse spending. Staying on track will result in less stress and no spending hangover after the holidays next January!