Budgeting. This is often something that gets put off, but when money gets tight, we all wish that we had done it earlier. Although it is not a fun task, set time aside THIS WEEK to create, or review, your budget.

The first step to creating a budget is to figure out where your money is going. Track your spending very carefully for a month. Dollar for dollar, cent for cent. Keep track of it by pen-and-paper or by using a smartphone app. This will show you where you can eliminate a few dollars from one category and move to another. If you currently buy your lunch at the café next door to your work 4 days a week (approx. $8/day x 4 days a week=$32/week), cut down to once per week as a treat and put the $24/week that you would normally be spending at the café towards a credit card or loan payment. $24/week doesn’t seem like much but in one year, that’s an extra $1248.00!

Once you’ve identified where you are spending your money, identify how much money you are making each month, along with your expenses. Some of the categories on your budget should include:

-living expenses (rent/mortgage)

-car payments

-loan payments

-insurance (home, car, life)

-groceries

-utilities (hydro, gas, water, phone)

-savings

-entertainment

-clothing

-gifts

Some tips to remember when creating your budget:

-Don’t forget about seasonal expenses. School supplies, Christmas gifts, annual memberships. Set aside a little bit of money each month throughout the year so that when the time comes, you can pay cash for these things.

-Deposit money into your savings account automatically each pay period. Every little bit helps. Start with $25 from each pay cheque. When you’ve gotten comfortable with that amount, and when your budget allows, then you can move it up to $30 each pay period.

-Pay with cash. Even by using a debit card, it can be easy to overspend since you’re not visually seeing the money that you are spending.

-Do your best to stick to your budget. The numbers may need tweaking along the way & unexpected expenses may come up along the way but do your best to stick to your budget, get back on track and it WILL be worth it!