This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Green Dot. All opinions are 100% mine. Getting your finances in order is a must, and Green Dot can help! If it’s time to change your financial life, learn how to make a budget and stick to it with these easy steps.
I was recently crunching my financial numbers and realized that I have been spending too much money. I have usually been pretty good with my finances, but as of late, I have been over spending more than usual and it’s time to put a clamp on it! Keeping track of my finances has made a HUGE difference for me, and using the Green Dot Bank Cash-Back Visa Debit Card, a smart bank account with cash back, ATM access, a handy dandy app, and account alerts* has really helped! More info on that below, but now it’s time to learn about getting your finances in order and figure out how to make a budget and stick to it. These steps worked for me!
Getting Your Finances In Order: How To Make A Budget and Stick To It
How to start a budget – Determine your real monthly income
The first step to get a handle on your finances is to know how much money you’re making! The easiest way to keep track is to do this monthly, so take a look at your pay stubs or, if you’re self-employed like me, your business tracking sheets (please tell me you keep track of what you make!) or bank account deposits and come up with a nice, round figure. Do not add bonuses or other one-time payments, they will skew your budget and throw it off in future months. Once you know how much money you’re bringing home, it’s time to calculate your monthly expenses.
Calculate your monthly expenses
Getting your finances in order is totally dependent upon what you’re spending, so it is an absolute MUST that you calculate your real monthly expenses. There is no specific rule here, because people live in different places and have different household sizes, so this part is up to you.
Examples include your fixed expenses (housing, which should be around 30% of your monthly income, utilities, vehicle costs, cell phone, student loans, debt, insurance, subscriptions), your variable expenses (entertainment, food, miscellaneous purchases), and your savings goals. Figure out what you NEED to be spending and see it it’s feasible with your current income. I like this expenses calculator, you can quickly input your monthly income figure you’ve determined above and all of your expenses to see the big picture. Seeing this will help you cut down in areas that you may be overspending, make adjustments, and learn how to make a budget and stick to it.
Learn how to make a budget and stick to it
When creating your monthly budget, your total expenses for the month should be less than your monthly household income. If it’s not, you need to make some adjustments! If your expenses number is larger than your income number, you’re over spending and you need to look around and see what you can cut down on. Got it? I like to use the Green Dot Visa Debit Card to keep my variable expenses, including groceries, gas, and entertainment, separate from my fixed expenses. I was definitely spending too much on groceries, so I take it everywhere now and it makes my life easier! To start a budget, you will take your income and expenses you calculated above and do a little math. Here’s an example for someone who makes $3,500 per month, if they stay on track, they not only go over budget, but they will have a $300 surplus:
- Monthly income: $3,500
- Expenses total: $3,200
- fixed: housing $1,000, utilities $250, phone $100, vehicle $300, loans $0, debt $100 = $1,750
- variable: food $400, entertainment and flexible spending $500 = $900 (the Green Dot Visa Debit Card is perfect for this)
- savings: emergency fund $100, IRA $250, personal savings $200 = $550
Set realistic spending goals for your budget
Make sure that when you create your budget, you set goals that make sense for your lifestyle. A family of 6 probably can’t realistically lower their food expenses to $100 per month, and a couple earning $4,000 per month may find it hard to try to allocate $3,000 per month to their savings. It’s just not realistic, so make sure your budget numbers make sense for your family.
Getting your finances in order – Manage your cash flow and bank smarter
Getting your finances in order means you may have to do a banking refresh! I have been using the Green Dot Bank Cash-Back Visa Debit Card, a smart bank account with a debit card that gives you 5% cash back on your purchases (up to $100 annually)! Most banks like to suck you dry with fees here and there, and Green Dot doesn’t. It is refreshing to know that there are no penalty fees for overdraft charges or bounced checks, and there is no minimum balance required.
This is NOT a credit card, it is used as a debit card and can help get you on track with the spending goals you’ve made for yourself. You can stay within your budget and use the Green Dot app to manage your money, pay all your bills and deposit checks. You can also get ASAP direct deposit where your paycheck clears 2 days early!* I have been using this card for my everyday purchases, separate from my fixed living expenses, limiting myself to a certain amount so that I do not overspend. You can shop everywhere that Visa debit is accepted in the U.S. and getting 5% cash back on eligible purchases make this debit card a big win for me, making it easy to feel confident about my finances!
Good job getting your finances in order, now stay the course!
Getting your finances in order does not have to be difficult, it is possible, and I am proof! I am thankful for Green Dot, the cash back debit card that is convenient, makes me feel confident that I am banking smart, and that I am always in the know. Bank Smart. Get Rewarded. Get a Green Dot card today!
The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. Before making any decision, we recommend you consult a financial planner, tax advisors and/or return preparers to take into account your particular objectives, financial situation and individual needs.
*Other fees and limits apply. See simple fees here. ASAP direct deposit is subject to your employer’s payroll process and timing. Cards issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.