Build a Budget
Setting up a budget can help you manage the money you earn and develop a plan to meet your future goals. It can help you avoid spending more than you make, save funds for future expenses, and help you reach financial goals.
STEP 1: EXAMINE YOUR SPENDING
The first step to building a budget is determining how you are currently spending your money. Review your online accounts, monthly statements, and current bills to start a list. Begin keeping a record of every dollar you spend – small purchases can add up to a lot of money that might be better spent on more important things.
STEP 2: ANALYZE YOUR HABITS
Now that you have a clearer understanding of how you are spending your income, it’s easy to see how much you’re spending in flexible categories like entertainment compared to fixed costs such as rent – and identify areas where you can make cuts if necessary.
STEP 3: MAKE A PLAN
Decide what do with the money you’ve saved – devote more to paying off debts, start or add to a savings account, or allocate money toward large expenses like a down payment or a vacation. Or if you don’t have a specific goal, consider following these general guidelines:
- 60% of your income: Basic needs (housing, utilities, groceries, and other essentials)
- 20%: Non-essential spending that increase quality of life
- 10%: Debt reduction
- 10%: Savings
MONEY MANAGEMENT TACTICS
Direct Deposit: If you’re tempted to spend the money you’ve earmarked as savings, set up some of your direct deposit to go straight to a savings sub-account named for your goal. You’ll think twice before “borrowing” from your New Car savings account. Read more about setting up direct deposit. Visit any branch or call 505.293.0500 or 800.947.5328 for help with sub-accounts or direct deposit.
Account Monitoring: Keep an eye on your spending and account balances by downloading SLFCU's mobile app for your smartphone. You may also set up alerts in online banking so you’ll be notified by email or text when a deposit is made, a bill is paid, or a balance threshold reached.
Credit Monitoring: Request a free credit report to see your financial history that determines your credit score, which impacts your ability to borrow or even rent an apartment or get a job. Report any errors to the credit reporting agencies, and fix bad habits that appear on your report, such as paying bills late.
- Budgeting, money management, and credit building articles
- BALANCE Financial Fitness articles, calculators, tools, and videos about improving your financial knowledge
- Financial Planning Worksheet (PDF) from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- SLFCU Seminars
- Debt consolidation and savings goals calculators