By Audrey Korir
Budgeting may sound complicated, but it can be a very basic personal finance skill. Whether you decide to make your budget simple or detailed to the last coin, the most important part of budgeting is to put it into practice.
The difficulties of sticking to a budget tend to be as a result of the following common mistakes:
1. Guesstimating Your Monthly Costs:
When you first come up with a budget, you may not be too clear on how much to assign various expenses. This means that you make guesses and estimates, and hope that the money you set aside is enough to cover everything.
However, this first draft isn’t going to be the budget you end up with. To improve your odds of success, start with an idea of how much you’ve spent in the last three months. Keep a record of your spending and at the end of this period, average the cost for each category on your budget.
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2. Not Tracking Your Spending:
If you are not keeping track of your spending, you’re not going to know when you’ve reached a budgetary limit, and you may find yourself undoing all the good you did when you started budgeting.
You can either note down every shilling you use, or bank on the envelope method. With the latter system, set aside the cash you need for each budget item in its envelope- so this could be for groceries, house shopping, cleaning services, fuel and so on.
This helps you monitor what you have available to spend which reduces the chance of spending cash frivolously.
3. Forgetting to Set Aside Entertainment Money:
Budgeting always comes across like such serious business that it’s easy to forget to set aside some cash for entertainment. To boost your odds of sticking to a financial plan, set aside some cash that you can spend as you see fit. You can use this money for dinners out, or a clothing spree. Spending without a plan could see you spend more than you can afford to.
4. Leaving Out Some Categories:
There’s spending that we do every other month that we usually do not see the need to put down in our budgets. However, this kind of spending can mess up attempts to keep a close eye on the money leaving your account. To adequately prepare for these expenses, which include things like wedding gifts and funeral contributions, set an upper limit for what you are willing to spend in a year, divide this amount by 12 to determine how much to set aside each month.
5. Working Alone:
If you are married or in a committed relationship where the financials are shared, you can’t work on a budget by yourself. Come up with a list of expenses, share them out and try to stick to your end of the bargain. If this proves too difficult, you may consider both contributing to a central kitty, and have one of you manage the cash expenditure. Hold regular budget review meetings to keep everything on track to ensure that no one feels overwhelmed.
6. Varying Your Expenses Based On Your Income:
If you are an entrepreneur or you work on a contract, it can be difficult to set a budget because your income isn’t regular. Some months will be more difficult to get by than others if big bills fall due at the same time. To get around this, try and save up a certain percentage from all the cash you make until you can comfortably cover a month of expenses. And then work off of this account, and use a percentage of any new cash to refill it.
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7. Failing To Build An Emergency Fund:
An emergency fund holds the money you need to cover unexpected costs, like medical emergencies, car or an appliance getting spoilt.
This fund helps you avoid dipping into the cash unless it’s for a specific list of items that you’ve listed as emergencies.
Drawing up a budget is personal finance 101, sticking to it may be a task but it is what will help you to live within your means.