Bills can be overwhelming for many of us. It’s not always the amount due that can cause problems, but also the due date. It’s very rare that two bill dates fall on the exact same date, so ensuring we have money available can prove to be troublesome.
This is where many consider creating a budget but which method will best suit your circumstances. Unfortunately, there is no sole solution that applies in every instance. However, there are several options available, which means that it should be too difficult to find a solution that works for you.
Use a Calendar or Diary
While the use of a calendar or diary is not going to win any awards for innovation, the effectiveness shouldn’t be underestimated. To make the process clearer you can consider using different coloured pens, or highlight entries with a highlighter to ensure you can tell the difference between income and expenditure.
The drawback of using this method is that it can become messy should things change. However, if you have an income that is regular and consistent, there’s very little reason as to why you can’t benefit from the use of a calendar or diary.
If you do need to make a series of amendments, and you really would prefer to use a diary or calendar, then it may be a good idea to write down financial commitments in pencil so the process doesn’t become too messy and confusing when you need to make amendments.
Use a Spreadsheet
Again, the use of a spreadsheet can seem a little dated, but effectiveness rises to the surface once again. Regardless of whether you’re using Microsoft, Google or an open-source alternative, the use of a spreadsheet for budgeting means you can create a bespoke budget with very little effort.
Don’t worry if you’re new to the world of spreadsheets, as you will often find that there are many templates available online that can be tailored to suit your needs.
Consider Using an App
The rise in the use of smartphones means that apps are now an everyday part of life. Whether we’re making a bank transfer or ordering a pizza, in most instances, you will be using an app to carry out the task. It should come as no surprise that there is also a vast selection of budgeting apps available.
There are even apps that securely connect to your bank account, allowing you to come up with a precise and accurate budget. Of course, if you’re a little sceptical, then make sure you read some reviews before choosing an app. While there are always secure practices in place, it’s completely understandable as to why some people are nervous about apps having access to their personal information.
Each app will have its own dashboard and layout, so you may need to try a few to find a fit that suits you, but having the information to hand always means you’re more likely to keep to your budget, and make changes where you see fit.
Use an Online Calendar
If you’re looking for a balance between a conventional budgeting solution that can be used online, then why not consider using an online calendar. In most instances, you will be registered with a service like Microsoft and Google, and the calendar can be synced across all your devices.
There are also plenty of other providers, and in most instances, you probably have a calendar as part of your operating system. While online calendars don’t have as much functionality as that of a budgeting app or specialist software, they’re more than useful when trying to get our financial affairs in order.
Monthly or Weekly?
Once you have decided as to which method of budgeting suits you best, you will then need to decide how to set out your budget. If all your bills are monthly, and your income is paid to you monthly, this shouldn’t be difficult. However, if you must contend with monthly payments on weekly pay, it can prove to be a little more difficult.
If this is the case, then you can budget monthly, with a view to having funds in place when bills are due. For example, if you have a phone bill due at a point in the month, you would need to look at the weeks prior to this and budget for this expense accordingly.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to planning your budget, you just need to ensure it’s something you understand and can rely on.
Self-Employed and Contract Work
If you’re a freelancer or self-employed individual, then creating a budget can be difficult, as many will have different amounts coming in at different times. More confusion can be caused if you’re personal bank account is a mix of personal and business payments.
IN the first instance, we should look to separate our business and personal payments, as this will give a clearer overview of our income and expenditure. Having a dedicated bank account for your income will also allow you to work out the average you earn each month.
It is advisable that you opt for a budget solution that can be easily amended, giving you an updated budget in real time. Those who work for themselves will probably have more alterations to make than others, and not recording these changes as soon as possible could have a detrimental effect moving forward.