If you are looking to secure your financial future, it is imperative that you create a budget. It allows you to determine how much money is coming in over a given period of time and how much of that money you get to keep. Let’s look at what should be included in a budget and how to prioritize your spending each month.
Pay Your Most Important Bills First
Your budget should allocate money for basic essentials such as food, clothing and shelter. It should also account for any student loan, tax or alimony payments that you would need to make. These payments should be given top priority because they cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. Of course, you should make credit card and other debt payments as required to ensure that you don’t see a drop in your credit score.
Savings Should Come Next
Once you have accounted for your bills, your next priority should be to build a savings account. Ideally, you will save at least 10% of each paycheck, and that money should be divided between an emergency fund and retirement accounts. Contributing to a retirement account can be ideal because you may qualify for a tax deduction. Furthermore, contributions will compound tax-free for the next several years or decades.
Discretionary Spending Should Come Last
Any money that you have left over after paying bills or saving for your future can be used as you see fit. You could choose to use this money to go on vacation, attend a concert or invest in a business venture. If you don’t need the money for any specific purpose, you should put it in a savings or brokerage account where it can accrue interest.
Do You Have a Structured Settlement?
Structured settlements are akin to annuities from which you receive an installment payment each month. Structured settlements may be tax-free depending on whether you count it as income on a tax return. Generally speaking, any money that you get from a personal injury case isn’t subject to income taxes.
Learning how to budget can make it easier to manage your money and keep your debt to a minimum. You may be able to find a variety of budget templates online or by speaking to someone at a local financial institution. If your financial needs change for any reason, it is acceptable to alter your current budget to account for them.