When finances are tight, working on a budget is often the last thing you want to do. But having a good budget in hand is essential when you are facing those little unexpected emergencies or trying to figure out how much money you can afford at the grocery store. These tips will help you figure out the best way to go about establishing your household budget.
First, figure out how much money you have coming in every month. Include all sources of income that are readily available to you, such as paychecks, child support, social security, and even dividends on stocks and bonds. Anything that you know for sure will be coming to you should be included in the budget.
Second, you should list your expenses. Start with the most important ones first: rent or your mortgage, car payment, insurance, and utilities. Include groceries at the top of the list as well. Then start listing the rest, including credit cards, medical costs, and incidentals.
Look at how much money you have coming in versus what is going out. Pay the most important bills first - these are the ones that keep a roof over your head, keep your lights on, and keep food on the table. Those should always be your priority. Pay those bills out of what you have budgeted and then take a hard look at what is left over.
How many of the non-essential bills can you pay? Pay as many as you can. Rank them in order of priority and begin paying them, from the first to the last. If you need to make payment arrangements or you can't afford the full amount, call the person or office you owe and explain the situation. Ask if there is anything you can possibly do to make the situation easier on both you and the person who is expecting to be paid. You might be surprised at how many people will be willing to work with you if you simply ask them for help.
Finally, look at the money you have left over. Keep in mind that emergencies don't wait until the next payday, so budget out money for your emergency fund. Once you've set aside that money, don't touch it! Turn to your emergency fund only in the event of a serious emergency. Until then, try to forget it's there.
Tweak your budget from month to month until you know it by heart. Keep shaving off costs here and there, and the money you save should be funneled straight into your savings fund. With a budget, you can pinpoint where all your money is going and take steps to make sure it's all going to the right places for your family. Budgets are very important for single mothers, so pay plenty of attention to yours!