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Your Budget For 2020

From getting into shape, to eating better and other self-help goals, there is no shortage of resolutions that people make each year–and that includes saving money. Despite the best intentions, most resolutions are abandoned and forgotten by the time February rolls around, largely because people don’t take steps to ensure they can reach their goals. If saving money and reducing debt are part of your goals for 2020, now is the time to create your budget for the year.

            As unpleasant as budgeting may be, without one you are setting yourself up for failure, particularly if you have plans for significant purchases. If done realistically, a budget is a road map for where you stand financially–from what you earn, to where your money goes and what you can afford to spend. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning an effective budget:

  • The first thing is where your money is already going–from mortgage payments and utility bills, to groceries, gym memberships and the day-to-day purchases during the average month. Tracking your spending is important because it allows you to identify where money may be wasted or where it can be used more effectively, especially if you need to reduce debt.
  • Once you have documented your routine expenses, take the time to see if there is anything you can get rid of or cut back on without negatively impacting your quality of life. Just remember that if you aren’t realistic about the changes you make, you will probably be setting yourself up for failure.
  • Outline major expenses you expect in the year ahead so that you are aware of how much you will need to save each month.
  • Identify savings goals and make sure to regularly keep track of your progress so that you will know far enough in advance if you need to make other financial changes or eliminate other expenses to meet those goals.
  • Consider using an app to track your spending and keep it in check – taking advantage of the warning features that will notify you when you have overspent or when your account balance may be too low.
  • Automate as many routine payments as possible, so that these payments come right out of your paycheck the moment you get paid, including deposits into your savings account or retirement savings plans. Money that never makes it into your account, or which is pulled out almost immediately, won’t be wasted on unnecessary expenses.

Make sure to routinely check the balance on your credit cards at any given point in the month, as it is easy to run up higher balances than you realize. This also makes it easier to spot credit card fraud more quickly.

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