If you’re having trouble balancing your budget, one possibility is that you haven’t considered exactly what your budget looks like. Of course, it may be that you’re having financial struggles that you can’t fix with simple budgeting, but you won’t truly know until you examine the numbers.
The first thing to do is assess all your current debts. This includes not just outstanding balances, but also interest payments and minimum monthly payments. Don’t just lump them all together, though — clearly delineate your debts and prioritize them by importance or due date. Next, look at all other expenses that aren’t categorized as debts. Categorize them by essential and nonessential expenses. If you’ve ever itemized on your tax return, you should be familiar with this, though the categories may differ. Then allocate funds as necessary to pay debts and essential expenses before looking at nonessential expenses. You should also set up an emergency fund and allocate funds for that.
Once you’ve allocated funds, if things don’t look good for you, consider the options to either fix the budget or reduce the negative impact of an imbalanced budget. If you can allocate enough funds for debts and essential payments, it could be as simple as choosing which nonessential expenses you’re willing to give up. Or maybe you actually have the money, and are just saving more than you need to. One way to reduce negative impact is by deciding how you want to prioritize debts. One option is to pay extra towards high-interest debts to keep the payments manageable. The other is to focus on the debts with the lowest balance to eventually eliminate them entirely. Sometimes these could be the same debt, which is great, but other times you’ll need to pick which is best for you. If just reprioritizing payments isn’t going to fix your budget, some possible options are negotiating with your creditors, consolidating debts, or refinancing at a lower interest rate.