Hi! I’m Sarah, the Tax Associate here at Bette Hochberger, CPA, CGMA. I am also a Finance Coach on the side, so for today’s blog, I will be discussing essential budgeting basics for a solid spending plan.

Creating a solid spending plan is the cornerstone of financial stability and success. Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting your financial journey, understanding the basics of budgeting is crucial. Crafting a well-balanced budget allows you to allocate your resources effectively, enabling you to meet your financial goals and mitigate the risk of debt. 

So, let’s go ahead and dive into the essential components and provide practical steps to create a spending plan tailored to your needs.

Establish Clear Financial Goals

Before jumping into budgeting, outline your short-term and long-term financial goals. Whether it’s paying off debt, saving for a vacation, buying a home, or preparing for retirement, clear goals will guide your budgeting process and help prioritize your spending.

Calculate Your Income

Accurately determining your income is the first step in crafting your budget. Include all sources of income, such as your salary, bonuses, and any side hustles. Regularly updating your budget to reflect any changes in income ensures your spending plan remains accurate and effective.

Track Your Expenses

To create a successful budget, document every expense, from rent and groceries to coffee and entertainment. Categorize your expenses as either fixed or variable. Fixed expenses remain constant each month, such as rent and insurance, while variable expenses like dining out and entertainment can fluctuate.

Allocate Funds Appropriately

Once you understand your income and expenses, allocate your funds effectively. A simple rule is the 50/30/20 rule, where 50% of your income goes to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings and debt repayment. However, tailor these percentages to align with your financial goals and priorities.

Create an Emergency Fund

Building an emergency fund should be a high priority. Having a financial cushion can be a lifesaver in case of unexpected expenses like medical emergencies or car repairs, preventing you from derailing your budget or falling into debt.

Adjust and Optimize

A budget is not set in stone. Regularly review and adjust your budget to accommodate changes in income, expenses, and financial goals. Optimizing your budget ensures that you are always in control of your finances and are moving closer to your financial goals.

Utilize Budgeting Tools

Leverage budgeting apps and tools to streamline the process. Many apps categorize and track spending, send alerts for upcoming bills, and provide insights into your spending habits, making it easier to stay on top of your finances. 

Besides just budgeting apps, you can also hire a Finance Coach to thoroughly walk you through your budgeting process.

Mastering the basics of budgeting is critical for financial success. By setting clear goals, accurately calculating income, tracking expenses, allocating funds wisely, creating an emergency fund, and regularly reviewing your spending plan, you can build a solid financial foundation.

Remember, the journey to financial stability and freedom begins with a well-structured and maintained budget. Consult with a finance coach (such as myself!) or a CPA to receive personalized advice and strategies to create a spending plan that aligns with your unique financial situation and goals.

I’ll see you all next time!