The Importance of Budgeting – Planning Your Financial Present and Future

Budgeting is about planning your financial present and future. It is one of the most important steps to take on your financial journey and is an integral part of financial planning.

Planning entails setting some goals to aim for in the future. Whether your goal is to save more or pay off debt, or perhaps both, you need to understand your spending habits.

In order to understand your spending habits take one of the following steps:

Research past bank statements and receipts. While this is time-consuming it is eye-opening…or
Record all of your spending over the next month or so in a small notebook. This means recording everything from bills to cash spending. Once again a surprise is likely to be in store.
Set your budget and include savings (for the future) or to pay-off debt goals (the present). A budget is not merely a spreadsheet that tracks how much you spend for the month and it is not just balancing tool. While both of these are both important, neither fits the meaning of living within a budget — your spending habits will control that.

Your present expenses are those that are needed for day-to-day living. These include essential expenses such as accommodation costs of rent or mortgage. It includes payment of debt and your utility costs as well as food and groceries. Some expenses are fixed in that they do not change each month while others vary from month to month. Having your present spending requirements fit within your income will mean living without getting yourself into uncontrolled debt. A budget is essential to know that you are living within your means.

Once you have determined how much money you have after paying all your essential monthly expenses, set aside a portion to save for your future expenses. You have no doubt heard the adage ‘pay yourself first’. The idea is to put 10% of all income into long-term investment for your future — this is considered the ideal percentage. Pay yourself as part of your essential spending and make it a habit.

Expenses for your future involve putting money aside for your goals: buying a house, saving for children’s education, holidays and retirement to name a few. Each goal will have an amount to save for in your budget. Open a savings account specifically for your goals and transfer a set amount to that account every time you get paid. Making it automatic makes it a habit and tends not to be missed after a while…and it will gradually build up a sizable sum. When you are ready to spend on your goal you will already have the money set aside.

The importance of budgeting is living within the limits of your income and sticking to spending goals. This can be very rewarding, emotionally and financially. Planning your financial present and future depends on a good budget.