When it comes to your money, you should know where you are, where you’re going, and how you’ll get there. This all starts with the dreaded B-word—BUDGET. The very mention of the word budget sets off a feeling of confinement, restriction, limitation and loss of control. I admit there is a sense of confinement, restriction, and limitation associated with managing money—but it has nothing to do with a budget. What confines, restricts and limits us is the amount of money we make. Our income! So if you want to spend more, have more, and save more without sacrificing your lifestyle, you simply need to make more. A more formal definition of a budget would be a plan for spending, saving, and investing money. The importance of making a budget and sticking to it is to save for future goals while meeting present obligations.
Nobody wants to be tied down and confined—especially when it comes to our money. Most of us hold the position that it’s my money and I’m going to do as I please. You showed up to work, bust your butt and earned it. I’m with you—do as you please! Just do it on purpose with a plan that includes your needs, goals, desires, responsibilities, and commitments. Otherwise doing what pleases you today without planning can be the catalyst for what will destroy you tomorrow—financially speaking.
Now that we have a basic understanding of why a budget is important, how do we know that our budget is something that needs to be followed or something that needs to be changed. If you’re barely making it month to month or have “too much month left at the end of your money”, the telltale signs are evident—SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE. But what is that something? How do you quickly identify the area in your budget that’s causing you problems? What if the telltale signs are not so apparent? You pay your bills on time each and every month. You have a few dollars left after the dust settles. Are you moving in the right direction? You manage to get the numbers to balance, but are you sacrificing your children’s college fund, your retirement plan, your entertainment and recreational activity or tithing? If you’re currently doing well financially, wouldn’t you like to do better? A healthy budget recognizes that there are a lot of things we need, want, and desire in life—all of which have a price tag attached to them. A healthy budget does not limit or restrict you to pursue the things you desire in life. It simply helps you to understand that money is finite. There’s only so much of it that will flow through our hands and we have to make the most of it.
I’ve compiled some budget percentage guidelines that will help guide you to ensure that as you spend money and obligate yourself to payments, you have considered that there are other things you want to do in life that requires money. These budget percentage guidelines will ensure that you’re not overspending or under funding a particular category.