Money tight? Change your budget

budgetAre your finances stretched too thinly month after month?  The problem may not be with your spending behaviour; it might be with how you’ve laid out your spending.

Check the calendar

When’s the last time your revamped your budget? A good guide is to make a date with yourself every quarter to see where you’re at financially. Have you achieved your goals or made any progress?

You may be feeling frustrated if you’re not where you thought you’d be at this point. You may be feeling even worse if you’ve gone backwards.

The first step is to commit to a regular review. Starting now.

Fine tune your goals

Speaking of goals, what are yours? How specific have you been in outlining them? You need to focus more on the “how” of your goals, and not on the what of them.

You can’t say “I want to pay down my debt.” It’s more effective to say, “I want to reduce my debt load by x percent this quarter. I’m going to do that by focusing on my highest interest rate card. I’m going to come up with extra money by brown bagging my lunch every day and by using cash wherever possible to make purchases instead of credit.”

Bringing detail into your picture makes you more accountable. It also clearly delineates the steps you need to take to get there.

Does your budget make sense?

Look at how you’ve allocated your spending. Is it realistic? Have you put enough aside for groceries (which are getting more expensive all the time).? Are you accounting for everything? Remember items like entertainment, clothing, savings and extra “kid money” (which will ramp up in the summer- the kids are forever digging through your wallet for ice cream money, etc.)