With surveys showing that most households lack sufficient savings to pay for a $1,000 emergency, and large numbers of Americans struggling with debt, the value of creating and following a budget has never been clearer.
Creating a household budget can serve many purposes: getting out of credit card debt faster, saving for a long-term goal such as a house or retirement, or simply ensuring that you are on solid financial footing to meet whatever curveballs life may throw at you. The evidence that budgeting works is clear-cut: Surveys show that those who stick to budgets are less likely to report financial worries or living paycheck to paycheck and more likely to achieve their financial goals.
So, what exactly is budgeting? At its simplest, it’s a ledger detailing the spending decisions you intend to make. It estimates how much money will come in during the months ahead, and it allocates enough money to cover expenditures such as food, housing, transportation and insurance.
A good budget also includes allocations for regular savings. In essence, a budget not only lays out a path for reaching a particular financial destination but also acts as a flashlight to shine the way and ensure that you don’t wander off course. Without one, you’re more likely to find yourself in the dark about your financial health and lost in the wilderness of debt and financial insecurity.
Is it any wonder then that more Americans are turning to budgeting in their search for financial bliss? And while a budget won’t be able to buy you love, to paraphrase The Beatles, a side benefit might be to mitigate a common source of strife and strain in relationships: disagreements over money.