young men and women celebrating

CONSIDER THIS:  A Gallup poll found only about 1/3 of Americans (32 percent) maintain a household budget. Without a budget, it is easy to overspend, waste money, and get into debt.

So, what steps can you take to create a successful budget? Preparation is key. Most of us plan trips, weekend activities, work projects—so why should we handle our money any differently?

Here are some tips to creating and sticking to a budget:

  • Prepare. Make sure to include gifts, car repairs, holidays, and other miscellaneous items as part of the budget.
  • Have the entire family participate. If you involve all members of the family in the planning of a budget, everyone can be on the same page.
  • Be realistic. If your budget is too restrictive, you can become frustrated and feel deprived. Be prepared to transfer money from one category to another if necessary. Make sure enough funds are allocated for flexible expenses such as gas and groceries.
  • Create an emergency fund. Save up for the unexpected, such as medical issues or unplanned auto repairs. You can put any extra money you get into this fund.
  • Be consistent. Set aside a day each week to organize your budget, check your spending, and balance your accounts.
  • Educate yourself. Many financial institutions, including credit unions, offer financial education classes or workshops. Take advantage of those.
  • Take it one day at a time. If you have a setback, start fresh the next day.