The Importance of Budgeting
Budgeting is a topic that too many people try to avoid, yet it is one of the most important things you can do for your financial well being. In simple terms, a budget is a financial plan that outlines your income and expenses over a specific period.
Creating a budget helps you track your spending, prioritize your expenses, and ensure that you're living within your means. In this article, we'll explore how often you should create a budget - whether it's monthly, quarterly annually, or other - and why it's essential to do so.
We'll also discuss how life changes can affect your budget and why it's important to revise your spending plan regularly. But first, let's define what exactly we mean by 'budget'. If you ever get stuck or want to skip the learning curve, consider working with a budget coach.
Definition of a Budget: More Than Just Numbers
A budget isn't just about numbers on paper; it's about taking control of your finances and making informed decisions about where to allocate your resources. Creating a budget allows you to see the big picture of where your money is going each month and gives you the opportunity to make adjustments as needed. A budget is an expression of your values and priorities.
One common misconception about budgets is that they are only necessary for those who struggle with their finances or have limited income. However, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Anyone can benefit from creating and sticking to a budget regardless of their financial situation. Even high-income earners can find themselves in debt if they don't have an accurate understanding of their spending habits.
The Importance of Creating A Budget
Creating a budget is crucial if you want control over where your money goes each month. With no plan in place, it's easy for spending to spiral out of control leading to unnecessary debt or missed opportunities such as investing for retirement or buying property.
By creating and sticking to a proper budget, however, you'll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're in control of your finances. You'll be able to prioritize your expenses, reduce unnecessary spending and make more informed financial decisions that serve your long-term goals.
The purpose of this article is to help you learn how often you should revise your budget as well as why it's so important to do so.
How Often Should You Create A Budget?
As someone who has tried every budgeting method under the sun, I can confidently say that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The frequency at which you should create a budget ultimately depends on your personal financial situation and goals. However, in my experience, there are three main options: monthly, quarterly, and annually.
Continuous budgeting is not as time intensive as it sounds. In fact, the more you practice budgeting, the less time you’ll spend overall thinking and worrying about money. I practice continuous budgeting, and what that looks like for me is a 15 minute session once every two weeks where I reconcile my accounts, review my categories, and ask myself if I’m happy with how I’ve been spending my money. I adjust my plan accordingly.
Continuous budgeting is the best approach for people who want total control over their finances and who have a hard time holding themselves accountable to monthly, quarterly, or annual budgeting sessions.
If you're someone who likes to keep a tight grip on their finances and track every penny spent, monthly budgeting might be for you. This approach involves creating a new budget at the beginning of each month to account for income and expenses during that period. By doing so, you can quickly identify any areas where you overspend and adjust accordingly.
Aside from keeping your finances in check, monthly budgets have several other benefits. For instance, they help cultivate good spending habits by encouraging more mindful consumption.
Additionally, when done correctly, monthly budgets can make it easier to save money by setting aside specific amounts for saving or investments.
Monthly budgeting is the best approach for anyone who is new to budgeting and lacks a good track record of keeping on top of their finances.
Quarterly budgeting might be more suitable if you have fewer regular expenses or prefer not to track your finances as frequently as with a monthly approach. As the name suggests; this method involves establishing your income and expenses every three months.
When is quarterly budgeting appropriate? If you're self-employed or have a freelance job, for example, you may have variable income or expenses that vary from one quarter to the next.
Moreover, if you typically make large payments quarterly (such as a tax bill), breaking down your expenses and income into three-month segments may be more manageable.
Advantages and disadvantages of quarterly budgeting:
- More time to adjust to financial changes.
- Less frequent check-ins on finances
- Potential for overspending between quarters
- Difficulty anticipating unexpected or emergency expenses
Creating an annual budget is necessary if you're looking at long-term financial planning rather than short-term management of income and expenditure. With this approach, you set goals for the year ahead based on expected income and expenditures.
Why is annual budgeting necessary? If you're saving towards specific goals such as purchasing a home or paying off student loans; creating an annual budget allows you to set aside funds progressively throughout the year towards those goals.
Advantages and disadvantages of annual budgets:
- Long-term financial planning
- Focuses on savings achievable over time
- Annual budgets are more challenging to adapt when life circumstances change
- May not be suitable for people with unpredictable incomes
How Life Changes Affect Your Budgets
Life is full of changes, and as such, it is natural that our finances will be affected. It is crucial to understand how different life changes can impact your budget and learn how to adapt accordingly. Some of the significant life changes that can have a significant influence on your financial planning include marriage, having children, and job changes.
How Marriage Affects Your Finances and How Often You Should Revise Your Budgets
Marriage is a beautiful thing that brings about many changes, including financial ones. It is essential to create a budget together as a couple and ensure you are on the same page regarding spending habits.
This ensures that both parties have an understanding of each other's income level, debts, expenses and aspirations without feeling overwhelmed or blindsided. It is also critical to update your budget regularly after getting married because things change.
For instance, you may want to go on a honeymoon or buy furniture for your new house- these items should be included in the updated budget. Additionally, you may open joint accounts or credit cards with shared expenses like rent or utility bills; thus,it's essential to review the budget regularly so that both parties remain accountable.
How Having Children Affects Your Finances And How Often You Should Revise Your Budgets
Having kids comes with additional expenses ranging from education to healthcare costs. Therefore having children means adapting financially; it's essential to revise your budget regularly when you have kids so that you can cater for their needs without going into debt. Some of the specific expenses associated with having children include diapers, childcare services where necessary (especially if both parents work), medical expenses such as vaccines checkups etc., clothing items for growing kids who quickly outgrow everything they own- all these must be included in an updated budget.
How Job Changes Affect Your finances And How Often You Should Revise Your Budgets
Job changes can either positively or negatively impact your finances. It is essential to revisit your budget whenever there's any job change that affects income levels. For instance, if you get a promotion or a pay raise, you may want to adjust your budget accordingly so that you can save more money.
Similarly, a job loss or reduced hours will require an immediate review of your budget to determine which expenses should be cut back on and how much money needs to be saved. Ultimately, it's essential to understand that revising your budget following any job changes is critical in ensuring financial stability; hence it should be done regularly.
Budgeting is an essential tool for anyone who wants to achieve financial wellness. Whether you are trying to get out of debt, save for a rainy day or plan for retirement, creating a budget is the first step in taking control of your finances.
By understanding how much money you have coming in and going out each month, you can make informed decisions about where to allocate your resources and create a roadmap towards achieving your financial goals. When it comes to how often you should create a new budget, there are no hard and fast rules.
Rather, the frequency with which you revise your financial plan will depend on your lifestyle changes and financial goals. By regularly monitoring your income and expenditures and revising as needed, you can stay on top of your finances and live the life that you want without worrying about money constantly. So take action today and start creating or revising your current financial plan – Your future self will thank you for it!