How To Create A Monthly Budget And Save Money

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Money is tight these days, and cash certainly doesn't grow on trees. If you feel like you don't have enough money to meet your basic needs, it is very easy to feel helpless and alone with your beaten down budget or small savings stash. 

According to recent data, around 80% of Americans say that they are struggling financially, so you can rest assured that you are in good company. Much of the United States and global population struggles with personal finances in one way or another, especially with public health crises and inflation causing additional strain. Financial struggles are even gripping the upper middle class in the U.S. and much of the world due to severe inflation and economic volatility. The global economy and the personal finances of billions of people is looking rather grim right now.

One of the major reasons why the majority of people are in such a poor financial state is lack of education on money management and a limited understanding of budgeting. If you don't know your numbers and can't put a plug in your spending, you are setting yourself up for financial failure. 

Unfortunately basic financial education just isn't something they teach at a lot of schools or even colleges. That is starting to change out of necessity, but most students even with above average intelligence have very little knowledge of money or budgeting.

Learning how to create a monthly budget won't solve all of your financial stress, but it will certainly make it easier for you to feel secure and afford basic living expenses. And every little bit of extra budget-friendly financial security helps these days in a time of economic turbulence coupled with rampant inflation.

Read on to learn how you can set this frugal budget and ensure that it works for your specific financial needs. 

6 Top Tips To Create Monthly Budgets That Save More Money

1. Use a Budgeting App To Stay On Track

For those who have trouble keeping track of a lot of papers, budgeting apps can work wonders. You can conveniently enter your information into budgeting mobile applications including your necessary expenses, income, changes to your finances, and more. Pretty much all of these apps for budgets connect with your bank and do the math for you by figuring how much you need to allocate where. 

PocketGuard is one of the best free apps that connects your credit, checking, and savings accounts to better your budget planning. It detects your recurring bills and compares them to your income before showing you how much you have remaining for other expenses. From there, you can master your monthly budget for groceries and household needs that exist outside your recurring bills. 

One of the greatest things about PocketGuard is that while it categorizes your expenses automatically, you can also create custom categories for the best budgetary plans. This lets you include the things that are important to you within your monthly budget to find areas of improvement and savings. You also never want to forget about any bills so you can avoid late fees or surprise final notices. It also reminds you to consider tax fees and relief options.

2. Write All Expenses And Bills Down 

In addition to having a budgeting app, you will want to write everything about your budget down on paper. You can place this above your desk at home or on the wall beside your calendar. When you see it, you will remember how much you have to spend and where your money should be going to. 

Writing things down also has been proven to improve memory and fiscal fitness. It forces your brain to process things in a more detailed way. Writing the details of your budget will help you to keep it in mind throughout the remainder of the month, even when you are at the store with a dead cell phone battery and no physical list to look at. 

3. Consider The Expense Essentials First 

Before setting a budget, you need to consider your recurring payments like rent, utilities, insurance payments, student loans, and routine medical bills. You can't stop these bills from coming and missing them will ding your credit score and accrue interest. 

The next budgetary thing to think about are essentials like groceries and household items (toilet paper, pet food, etc). Be realistic about what you can afford and make sure that you don't end up in a situation where you have no food at the end of the month. Cheap grocery stores like Aldi, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Costco, BJ's, Price Chopper, Sam's Club, and Wal-Mart are a great way to save money when shopping for everyday items at retail shops. 

And keep in mind that you can still eat healthy on a budget if you follow The Frugal Diet, so there are no excuses to eat junk food in the name of saving money.

4. Include Entertainment Money 

When creating your budget, make sure that you don't forget to add at least a bit of spending money. You need some cash to go out with friends if you want to maintain your mental and social health. You also will want to treat yourself to a new book, video game, or just some takeout food every once in a while. While minimalism and frugality help budgeting significantly, you probably won't be living like a monk either. We are all human after all and can't penny pinch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with our budgets.

If you don't have a specific amount of money set aside for things that you want, you are likely to become frustrated and pull from other necessary areas of the budget. In the end, you will probably wind up spending more on entertainment than you would if you would just put it into your budget in the first place. If you need to save even more money on your entertainment costs, consider using a top torrent to download media free of charge.

5. Don't Forget About Savings 

If you're struggling financially, you likely feel as though you are surviving rather than living. You are probably sick of feeling like you are just barely keeping your head above water while living paycheck to paycheck. You likely are wondering how to eventually buy a condo or travel around the world so that you can start living your best life. The answer to making this happen is simple: saving money. 

This is a challenge for most people, but you need to set aside at least a few dollars a week to go into savings. Even if it's just $10, you will end up with $40 per month and $480 per year. This might not sound like much, and you should invest more if you can, but it is definitely better than nothing. A penny saved is a penny earned, and money saved by paying down debt or earned with compounding interest is more than just a penny! We all have to start somewhere when it comes to smarter saving and better budgeting.

6. Pay Cash Whenever Possible 

When you swipe a credit card for all of your expenses, it is easier to charge more than you have in your bank account. It doesn't feel like you are spending real money. It is even worse when shopping online with saved payment information. You need to remind yourself that every dollar counts and that when you buy something, you are investing actual cash into it. 

Using cash also makes it a lot easier to track how you are spending money in your financial budget. You can place it into envelopes that are marked with what you need to spend it on at the beginning of every month. This can help you conceptualize how much you have to spend where. Physically finding, dividing up, and paying with money helps keep you more accountable than using credit cards and digital payments so prevalent and frictionless today.

If you see that you absolutely need more money for groceries or a similar necessity, you can place more money into the grocery budget envelope next month and see if that works. The bottom line for budgeting is that paying cash makes it easier to conceptualize your finances on a concrete and realistic level. This will help you maintain your fiscal fitness and frugal financial foundation. 

Credit cards do have their upsides if your finances are in order and you use them correctly. They can help to build your credit and earn cash or point rewards when used properly. Just make sure to make credit card payments in full and consistently. 

Beyond How to Create a Monthly Budget 

While budgeting is a challenge for nearly everyone, it is completely possible with a bit of planning and foresight. Now that you know how to create a monthly budget that works for you and your household, it is time to start looking into other aspects of your frugal financial affairs. Financial security and finance freedom is the goal!

Check out the Frugal Finances tab on our home page for more tips like those you have read here today. If you need a bit of a money boost, we also discuss where you can take out personal loans under the Loans tab of our frugally financial blog. Good luck with creating the perfect plan for your individual frugal budgeting needs!

8 Tips To Improve Family Financial Security

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In the U.S. nearly 25% of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. That is correct about 50 million people in the US have exactly $0 in savings for their hopes to retire securely someday. The same financial trend is taking place around the world as well after a mini recession and rampant inflation.

How will these people have any family security financially? What will families do during this global economic recession with shortages, debt, and inflation still running rampant? 

It is an embarrassing reflection on people's priorities and a shameful reflection on American society. But we are not here to shame you, we are here to help your personal finances. Because when it comes to finance, it is all about family first and financial freedom!

Family Finances First

If you are looking to improve your financial security, you have come to the right place. We have rounded up family security and finance tips to help you prepare for the future. 

Whether you have three small children or you are on the verge of retirement, today is always the best day to start improving your financial health. Fiscal responsibility is essential in today's world. From life insurance to college and retirement savings, we have rounded up everything you need to know about how to be financially secure for your family's future. 

Here is how to improve your family finances and secure their financial future. 

8 Tips To Improve Your Family Finances

1. Get Life Insurance 

Having an adequate life insurance policy is essential for ensuring the financial security of most families. But what is whole life insurance and why do I need it? Whole life insurance protects your spouse and family in the event of an unexpected death. If you pass away, your family loses your income. 

Unlike term life insurance, whole life insurance policies last your entire life. These policies don’t expire as you age. That means your family has even more monetary protection. If you pass away in your 90s, your spouse or children still receive the benefits. 

Whole life insurance is also inexpensive compared to some other forms of investing. Making your monthly payments on time is all you need to do to financially protect your loved ones in the event of and unfortunate accident or illness. 

2. Boost Your Savings and Emergency Fund 

According to a study by the Federal Reserve, the average American doesn’t have enough saved to cover a $400 emergency. 

If you fall into this category, it’s not too late to start saving. There is some debate about how much of your income you should save for emergencies. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all number, you want to be comfortable. 

Let’s say your expenses total $2,000 per month. If you lose your job, how long could you live off your savings? Having $10,000 in savings could float you through five months of unemployment. Saving $208 per bi-weekly paycheck for two years could get you to $10,000 in savings. 

Once you reach your goal of $10,000, don’t stop the savings there. Remember that there are plenty of other important things to save for. Keep up your savings rate and shift your money into retirement savings, investments, and your child’s education. 

While an emergency fund is important, saving for retirement and investing is arguably even more vital. Should you need more than what is in your emergency fund, you still have these assets to pull from. If you never need them, they are growing at a much higher rate than a savings account. 

3. Create a Budget 

If you are thinking there is no way I can save any money each month for your families, it is time to take another look. Budgeting isn’t about coupons and envelopes of cash. It is about going through your expenses and really looking at how you’re spending your money. 

Take some time to go through your bank account. Look at how much you have coming in as income. Next, look at what expenses you have. Fixed expenses are bills you have to pay each month. This includes your mortgage, student loans, and car payments. 

Next, look at the expenses you can trim some costs if needed. You might not even realize you have been paying for three different music subscription services. If you aren’t using things such as group fitness classes or virtual cooking lessons, take the time to cancel them. It is the frugal thing to do for masterful money management!

Once you have a clear picture of where your money is going, it is time to see what is left. If the answer is nothing, take another look. Look at your grocery bill and how much you spend on coffee or eating out. 

Your food and entertainment spending are likely areas where you will be able to pull down some extra savings. Set a goal for each of your savings buckets. You should always have one for retirement and financial emergencies. You may want more for things like a new home and your child’s education fund. 

4. Make a Financial Plan 

Once you have your budget in place, it will be easier to tackle your next steps. Consider your financial goals. What does it mean to you to have financial security for your family? 

Some people, want to pay off their debt while others prefer to see a large emergency fund. Whatever your goals are, get them down on paper and start shifting your budget accordingly. 

5. Pay Off Debt 

Debt is expensive. The less debt you have, the less interest and finance charges you’re paying. With less debt, you will see lower interest rates on cars and homes. 

Without credit card debt, you’ll drop expensive monthly interest payments as well. Your credit score will improve, and you will have a better debt-to-income ratio. Pay down your debt and you will be that much closer to better financial health. 

6. Save for Retirement 

Retirement is one of those non-negotiables when it comes to savings and financial planning. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they aren’t able to work anymore. Think about how you’d like your retirement to look and what you will realistically need. 

Make a plan to invest in your future. If you have an employer-funded 401(k) plan, start by maximizing this. An employer match is free money you should take advantage of. Next, consider opening your own brokerage or IRA account. 

Set up automatic withdrawals from your checking account into these investment accounts. When the money comes out automatically, you won’t miss it. The money goes right in each month and you can sit back and watch it grow. 

If you like to see a visual of how you’re shaping up, there are a lot of great apps you can use. You can put in all your accounts and funds and they will automatically add up your wealth and net worth. 

From here, you can see what that looks like when you retire. Is $500 or $5,000 enough to live off of each month? Remember that any wealth you accumulate can also be left to your spouse, children, and grandchildren to take care of them after you’ve passed. 

7. Provide Your Family With Finances for College 

When you first have a baby, college can seem far away. You will be surprised at how fast the time goes. How much you should save for college is often debated by financial experts. 

With the rising costs of education, if you have multiple children, paying for all their college tuition will be expensive. A 529 Plan is a tax-advantaged way to save for college. 

Instead of burning yourself out trying to pay for it all, aim for a third. Paying for a third of their education means your child handles a third and the final third is paid through grants, scholarships, or loans. 

Remember that your child should also be involved in this process. There are work-study programs and on-campus jobs that provide students with income to offset the cost of their education. Get them involved in the planning process as well. 

Also remember that paying for their entire education isn’t a burden you need to take on alone. Whether you pay for 100% or a few thousand dollars, there’s no right or wrong answer here. Starting young, however, gives you the best chance to accumulate some savings when they reach 18. 

8. Set Up a Will or Estate Plan 

Once you have children, if you don’t have a will, it is time to get one. An estate plan is another security to make sure your final wishes are clear. When you pass away, your loved ones won’t have to fight over or sort out what asset is going where. 

These are especially important if you have young children. You can include medical directives, and who should care for your children in the event that you and your partner should pass away. 

These aren’t only for the super-wealthy families and estates. If you own a home or have any money in your bank accounts, you qualify for an estate plan and a will. Make sure everything is lined up for your spouse and children after you have gone. 

If you have also had more than one spouse or children from different marriages, an estate plan is a great way to avoid any tensions or confusion. Everyone will know your wishes and will understand what to do with real estate, investments, and assets which improves overall family security when it comes to money management. 

How To Improve Your Family Security and Finances 

Family security offers some much-needed peace of mind. It is a great feeling knowing you are on track for your frugal financial goals. 

For some, financial security means paying for their child’s education. For others, it is a large emergency fund or retirement savings. 

Whatever financial security means to you, it starts with getting control of your finances. You can’t change where your money is going if you don’t know what you are spending it on. Get your priorities in place and set your plan in motion for your family's financial future. 

From life insurance to estate plans, it is never too late to start taking advantage of these programs and securing your family’s financial future. For more finance and money resources to improve monetary family security, head to the Frugal Finances blog section.

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