Building a Spending Plan: Step 6—Sticking to Your Plan1
You can modify your spending plan. If your income increases, add the amount to the income sheet in Step 3 and Step 5 (see the earlier publications in this series, available online at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_series_building_a_spending_plan). If you reduce your spending, subtract that amount on the appropriate tables in Step 4 and Step 5. This will allow you to compare the new total income and expenses in Step 5.
To make your spending plan a financial management tool, you will want to complete the following tables (Table 1 and Table 2) at the end of each month after you have paid all your bills. By comparing the planned expenditure amount with the actual amount spent in each category, you can quickly see if you are staying on budget.
If your actual amount is equal to or less than your planned amount, then you are staying on budget. If the actual amount is more than the planned amount, you are overspending. Go back to Step 5 to see if you can think of ways to cut expenses. Then make those cuts in Step 4 so you will not be over budget next month.
Tracking your expenditures in this manner each month will quickly get you back on budget if you make the necessary adjustments. Tracking expenditures will also help you find out exactly how much you can spend and save to achieve your short- and long-term goals.
Get into the habit of keeping and organizing your records. Keep receipts, bank statements, pay stubs, and check registers in a safe place. They are important for your spending plan and at income tax time.
Keep your spending records simple and in a convenient place. You will want to refer to them periodically throughout the year as suggested in these steps. You may also want to compare your spending from year to year. Make a totals page that adds together all the monthly expenditures for each category. (You can use the categories found in Step 4.) Then you can compare year to year.
Try to eliminate unnecessary expenses. Review your financial goals. Does more money need to be directed toward your goals and less money toward current expenses? What expenses can you cut down on or eliminate?
Pay your bills on time. That saves you money because you won't have to pay late fees. It also builds your credit rating.
Remember to review your spending plan each month by using the following tables. They will help you stick to your spending plan so you have money available to put toward your financial goals. Reaching your goals will provide great satisfaction as you practice better money management.
For the rest of the steps in the Building a Spending Plan series, visit https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_series_building_a_spending_plan.