How do you know if you need a budget?
The truth is, everyone should have a budget to follow. Budgets are tools to help you manage your personal finances and ensure that you maintain a happy, healthy quality of life.
If you think you’re doing just fine on your own, check out the ten following signs that you need a budget in your life.
You Can’t Seem to Cover Your Bills
Are you always scrambling and scraping cash together to cover your bills?
It’s one thing not to have extra money at the end of the month. But if you’re struggling to pay for your utilities and rent, then it is critical for you to take the time to see where all your money is being spent.
Chances are, you’re spending a lot of money on things you want instead of things you need, resulting in bills not being paid when the due date comes.
You’re Paying Credit Card Interest
Do you have credit card debt you can’t seem to pay down? Having credit card debt is a big sign that you need a budget. Credit Card interest can financially destroy you in the slowest way.
The average rate for credit cards is a whopping 19.2%! This means if you have $1000 in credit card debt, you’re paying $190 just in interest each month you carry that balance.
In addition, your payments pay off the interest first, with the remaining amount going towards your principal balance. That means if you’re paying $200 per month on your $1000 balance, only $10 is going towards your balance each month!
By having a budget and paying your card in full every month, you’ll save thousands of dollars a year that can be put to good use somewhere else.
You Don’t Have an Emergency Fund
Have you ever had an emergency happen to you that put you in a financial hole for months? If you’re like me and millions of other Americans that cannot get health insurance, going to the hospital can put you in financial ruin.
In fact, there are some Americans with terminal illnesses that decide that their life is not worth the financial burden on their children, so they forgo any treatment. This is a very tragic fact, but sadly, this is a reality that many Americans face every day.
Health emergencies aren’t the only ones you need to worry about though. There are emergency home repairs, car issues, emergency vet bills, and the list goes on.
The smart thing for you to do is to set aside money every month in your rainy day fund for whenever you need it in the future. This way, when emergencies eventually happen, you’ll be more prepared and won’t face a financial catastrophe.
You Don’t Have a Saving Account
Separate from your emergency fund should be your savings account. Your savings account is mainly for your retirement, but you can have separate savings accounts for things like buying a house or a car.
A very real possibility for millennials is that by the time we reach retirement age, there will be no social security benefits left to give us because there are too many boomers using it up now. For this possibility alone we should all be saving for our retirement as soon as possible.
I personally treat my retirement savings as another bill and put money into my account when I pay all my other bills at the beginning of the month. This way, I am not enticed to spend that “extra” money at the end of the month.
Your Relationship Suffers Because of Money
Do you and your significant other constantly fight about money? Have you ever hidden purchases that you made from your partner just to avoid a fight?
Imagine you are trying to save up for a down payment on your first house and your husband is obsessed with buying expensive shoes without talking to you first.
Arguing about finances is one of the biggest reasons that people split up. It is also a surefire sign you need a budget.
The first step is to decide if you want to budget separately or together. Once that’s decided, both partners need to sit down and work out their financial goals and a budget that works for both of them.
You Can’t Afford Vacations or Gifts for Holidays
When was the last time you took yourself on a nice vacation? Between saving for retirement and emergencies, this category is usually one of the last ones we save for.
What about buying gifts? Do you stress out even more around Christmas time or when you receive a wedding invitation?
Gifts can get expensive and if you don’t work them into your budget, you may end up putting them on a credit card and paying for them months after you give them.
You Don’t Know What You Spend on Groceries
Before I made a budget, I had no idea what I was spending on food every month. I figured I cooked a lot of the time and only ordered out a few times a month. Boy was I wrong. My food spending was almost as much as my rent because I was ordering so much takeout!
By setting a certain budget for food every month, you’ll save hundreds of dollars every month. As well as being more conscious about meal planning and what you put in your body.
You Think Next Month will be Better
I can’t tell you how many of my friends have told me that they couldn’t pay their bills this month, but next month will be better.
However, if your spending habits don’t change, how will your financial situation? Pushing off your financial situation is a definite sign you need a budget.
You Can’t Sleep at Night From Stress
Does the fear of not being able to cover your bills keep you up at night? This is a definite sign that you need a budget.
Not only are you adding extra stress, but that stress causes you to impulse buy as a way of coping to make you feel better. Unfortunately, it will only make you feel better for a few moments until the stress comes crawling back.
Creating a budget will help you feel more secure and is sure to help you get better rest.
You Don’t Have Extra Money at the End of the Month
Last but not least, if you don’t have extra money for yourself at the end of the month, it’s about time you need a budget.
After paying bills, saving for rainy days and retirement, you should also have some money left over to spend on the things you want. This would be money for things like going to the movies, buying concert tickets, or eating out at restaurants.
These things are wants, not needs. And you should focus on paying off any debt you have before you allow yourself to splurge.
How I Got Out of Debt
After looking for a few weeks for a solution to my mounting debt, I came across National Debt Relief. I spoke with a super friendly agent right away. He explained to me how the process worked and answered all my questions.
Basically, if you have over $7k in unsecured debt (credit cards, private student loans, etc.) National Debt Relief will negotiate with the person who lent you the money and settle for about half of what you owe.
While they are negotiating, you will be paying a specified affordable amount monthly into your National Debt Relief escrow account. National Debt Relief will pay the remaining loan balances to your creditors/loaners with this money.
For me, we set up my payment plan where I would pay $600 monthly for three years interest free. This was much cheaper than the $2000 I was paying to my credit cards every month.
In addition, they negotiated with all of the creditors and cut my debt from $30k to $15k! Another thing that I liked about National Debt Relief is that there is no penalty if you pay more than your specified monthly payment. I paid a few hundred extra every month and became debt free in two years instead of three.
No words can describe to you the weight that was lifted off my shoulders after working with this company. I would highly recommend them if you have accumulated a decent amount of debt.
Budgets can seem like an intimidating task, but in reality they are super simple to make. You can check out my article on how to make a budget for beginners here to get a good start. When did you realize you needed a budget? Let me know in the comments below!