How to Budget Your Monthly Income

No less than 78 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

Shocking, right? Well, probably not!

With well-paying jobs hard to come by and the economy not showing any solid signs of easing up, more people are not only working to bring ends together, but also racking up more debt in the process. In fact, the average American household owes north of $8,000.

Staying on top of your spending is the most effective way to ensure you're living within your means. However, this is easier said than done.

The good news is we are here to help you.

In this article, we're sharing a financial planning guide to help you manage your spending. Read on!

How Much Do You Really Spend?

The first step to getting a handle on your spending is to know how much you're currently spending.

Most people don't have an exact figure of how much they spend in a week or month. If I were to ask you this question right now, you would probably throw me an estimated figure. That's a big financial mistake.

Obviously, the only way to know how much you are really every month is to track every cent that leaves your pocket or bank account.

Begin with the fixed expenses - those that don't change. These typically include rent or mortgage payment, utility bills, etc. Next, keep track of how much you spend on food, clothing, entertainment, commuting, gifts and other such expenses.

Regardless of how little an expense is, record it. Over a month, small out-of-pocket expenses can quickly add up.

By the end of the month, you should have an accurate figure of your expenses. Compare it with your income. How much are you left with? Do you spend more than you earn?

It's only after getting a clear view of your expenses vs income that you can develop an effective spending plan.

Create Your Monthly Budget

The second step in our financial planning guide is to draw a budget.

Now that you know how much you spend, it's likely that you want to keep that figure low. This means you have to throw your old budget out the window, and create a new one that works for your money.

Take a second look at your expenses and identify the ones you can reduce or strike off the list altogether. This is not an easy thing to do, so you must ask yourself the hard questions.

A payday advance is not a bad thing to get, but just remember that you will need to work it in to your budget moving forward. For the next few months you are likely to have a payment that will need to be paid on time.

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For instance, do you really need the home internet you're paying for? Do you even need cable television when you spend most of your time at work?

What about the movie or dinner dates every weekend? You surely can cut them to once or twice a month? Try watching a movie or cooking weekend dinner at home. It's cool and relaxing, we promise!

The gist of it all is this: If there is an expense you can live without, drop it. Our goal here is to free up your income, so you can have more money at your disposal to make other important financial moves, like build a healthy rainy-day fund.

It's essential to note that creating a budget that works is only half the journey. The other half is to actually follow it.

Automate Your Bills

There is nothing wrong living the old-fashioned way. In fact, rustic living is now a trend that's refusing to die down, and driving a vintage car is a thing for the ages. But when it comes to personal finance matters, doing things the traditional way can cost you.

When you receive a physical bill via post, it easy to put it aside, and you can easily forget to clear it up until the service provider sends you an interruption of service alert. And when you forget to clear a bill, you risk spending the money elsewhere.

Automating your bills takes care of such inconveniences, ensuring you're always staying on top of your spending. Most banks offer digital banking solutions, so you can easily automate your bills online.

Prioritize Paying Off Loans

Loans aren't a bad thing, as long as you borrow and spend responsibly.

Whether you currently have a credit card loan or an unsecured installment loan, it's important to prioritize paying them off, especially those that have the highest interest rates. The shorter the time you take to clear a high-interest loan, the more money you will save in the long run.

It's hardly possible to stay on top of your spending when most of your money goes to clearing debt. So the sooner you finish, the quicker you will bring your spending under control.

A payday advance loan application will not show up on your credit report. If you budget you may still get caught in a spot where you could use more money in your bank account. Our lenders offer the installment loan product which many people find easier to handle than a plain old payday loan. 

Review Your Bank Statements

Let's be honest: No one has the time to sit down and scrutinize a bank statement unless something is grossly not adding up.

But in this financial planning guide, we're saying this is a task you must make time for.

It doesn't matter whether you trust your bank or not, a mistake can happen. Even technology does fail from time to time. A small accounting error can have a big impact on your personal finances. Make sure you do not have recurring charges on your account from any of those fun things you've been doing.

Take time to study your statements and ensure they tally with your personal records. If something isn't adding up, call the bank for an explanation.

Use Cash More - Avoid Swiping

Quick question.

Between paying for a purchase in cash or by card, which one hurts more? Cash, no doubt.

According to psychologists, parting always comes with some form of pain. You have a closer relationship with the money you have in cash - it's there with you, you see it - so parting ways with it hurts, more than it does when spending invisible (plastic) money.

This pain is good for you, because it will make you stop spending unless it's really necessary. For this reason, the last piece of advice in our financial planning guide is keep those plastic cards away. They will keep you spending.

Financial Planning Guide: Spending Control Made Easy

Money and honey are both sweet and addictive. You want to keep licking your honey, the same way you want to keep spending your money.

But unlike honey, money is incredibly scarce. Unless you have lots of it, you have to live within your means, otherwise you will slide into debt or even bankruptcy.

Lucky for you, we've outlined the steps you need to take to ensure your spending is firmly under your control.