There's no better way to take control of your finances than with a comprehensive budget. But before you get started, here are few things to consider.
- Embracing the budget. Budgeting goals may be as basic as controlling spending or as complex as saving toward a down payment on a home or taking a month-long vacation. Defining your reasons to make and stay within a budget may help build motivation.
- Developing your data. The first step is to track spending. For four weeks, account for every penny you spend. Use categories—such as food, housing or childcare—to help you identify where your dollars have to go and where you might be able to cut back. Many tools are available to help with this, including First Horizon Bank's Digital or Mobile Banking with online account management, which can categorize each expense and allows you to review the categories.
- Identifying hidden but routine expenses. It’s easy to forget about maintenance or occasional expenses when it comes to budgeting. Oil changes and tune-ups for your car, home furnace filters and annual heating/air system maintenance, lawn care costs, vet bills and routine medication costs are some of the occasional or seasonal expenses to include in your budget. Tracking where your money goes over time may help you find and account for these expenses.
- Starting to save. Now that you know where your money is going, identify areas where you could spend less. Maybe you could cut back on clothes shopping or tool buying, for instance, or opt for a more basic cable package instead of paying for premium channels. If you identify ways to cut back, put the money you normally spend on non-necessities into a savings account each pay period to build an emergency fund. Once that is established, use extra money to pay down any debt more quickly.
Watch Out for Budget-Busters
Are entertainment costs for movie tickets, party food or video game downloads having a budget impact? Never underestimate the thrifty pleasures of free time. If you’re planning a family activity, consider options like taking a hike or visiting a nearby playground. Is it raining outside? Have your friends over for a potluck board game night. You’ll create memories without spending a bundle.
Everyday Ways to Save
Check out these simple, achievable ideas to help sock away extra savings.
- Hold a kids’ clothing swap with friends, family members, and neighbors to save approximately $200 per child per year.
- Eliminate a daily $5 beverage expense from your workday to save $1,300 per year.
- Trade in your couple’s annual gym membership ($80 per month) for a daily walk, run or workout video and 15 minutes of lifting free weights to save $960 per year.
- Forgo workday lunch from a restaurant ($5–$12 per day) for a sandwich or leftovers from home to save between $1,300 to $3,120 per year.