1. Money

Get Control of Your Budget

By

It is a new year, and time for new goals. One common financial goal is following a budget. A budget is really the most basic step in taking control of your financial future. Your budget helps you discover where you are spending your money, and make necessary changes so that you stop overspending. Here are five budgeting goals from the most basic to the more complex for the budgeting pros. No matter what your budgeting style, if you can apply just one of these goals to your budget this year, you will be able to accomplish your financial goals more easily. They will also help you to avoid any budget busters that are stopping you from reaching your goals.

1. Setting Up and Following a Budget

If you have never had a budget before, then your goal should be setting up following a budget for this year. This is not a complicated goal, but it does take discipline and some work. It is important to realize that it takes a few months to settle into a working budget for you. Also your budget can change from month to month to meet your needs and current expenses. The two main goals are to spend less than you earn, and to know where your money is going. Once you have a working budget you can work towards your other goals of saving money and getting out of debt.

2. Tracking Your Expenses Each Month

This simple budgeting goal is essential to making your budget work for you. If you do not know where you are spending your money, it is difficult to change your habits. If you are a budgeting pro, you may want to revisit this goal to see if there are any areas you can improve on now. You can do this on a broad basis looking at general categories or take the opportunity to break it down into smaller categories within your broad categories. For example looking at your grocery budget how much do you spend on convenience foods or alcohol or eating out? Can you change that amount for the better?

3. Balance Your Checkbook Each Month

This goal fits into tracking your expenses, but it can also help to prevent common banking errors and overdraft mistakes. You may break this into smaller goals such as keeping track of your account balance every night, as well as balancing to your statement each month. This can be a simple process if you have budgeting/money software.

4. Save Money on Your Biggest Spending Categories

If you have had a working budget for a while, you may want to take the challenge of cutting your spending in specific categories each month. Look at your budget to determine which categories you can save more money in. Most people can find ways to trim their grocery, entertainment and transportation categories without too much effort. Challenge yourself to trim spending in at least three categories. You should also set up a category to cover irregular spending like the cost of attending a friend's wedding.

5. Save More Money This Year

This goal involves putting more money into your savings account than you did last year. This is a goal that you should work on after you have gotten out of debt, because you it does not make sense to save money when you are paying a higher amount in interest than you are earning. This goal can be accomplished in an umber of ways, and you may want to set specific goals regarding your retirement, your emergency fund and any other savings categories. Saving more is just one of the ways you can take control of your finances.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.