spending plan
Updated October 12, 2019

How To Start A Spending Plan In 11 Easy Steps


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With our finances getting more and more difficult to navigate, it is becoming increasingly important to have a spending plan. You may ask why?

  • A spending plan not only saves you the stress of having to fight your way out of debt, but it also helps you spend wisely and smartly.
  • A spending plan is an excellent idea if you want to make sure that you smash your financial goals.

In this article, you will learn all about the spending plan definition, how to start a spending plan, and how to maintain that plan.

First, we will begin by giving you the benefits that a reasonable spending plan will give you. It is important to note that these benefits are a big deal and can be an essential motivator to plan better.

Benefits of A Spending Plan

There are several benefits to having a well laid-down spending plan. These will only work out for you if you follow the detailed plans and steps in this article. Follow every step to the letter, and you should not have a problem.

● Gives Coherence to Spending Life

A spending plan gives your life an organized outlook. You no longer have to spend sporadically. An organized financial life translates to an organized life, and there is nothing more attractive than an organized life.

● Cultivates a Big Saving Lifestyle

As a result of your organized life, there is infinitely more room to save. Money that would have been spent on unnecessary expenses is saved in the long run. Every cent you save off a bad purchase will become a thousand dollars eventually.

For instance, you shouldn’t spend too much on what you can do without. Work on yourself. Take that one big leap, and your finances will receive a massive boost.

● Keeps You Out of Debt

Who wants to be in debt? No one! Student loans and the sorts can take a big fat chunk off your account. However, having a spending plan worksheet that you update from time to time keeps you out of the cold hands of debt. By managing your finances so efficiently, you will never have to be in debt if you play your cards right.

Debt is never a good thing to deal with, and a spending plan prevents just that.

● Keeps You Totally in Control

You are in total control. You decide what to buy, how much to buy and what to cut on. Since you’re the pilot of your finances, this is ideal. You know when you’re getting paid, when to buy groceries, when to go on a family vacation, or when to get a diamond ring for your fiancée.

● Offers Comfortability and Flexibility

When you have a detailed plan, you’ll never be anxious or nervous about your financial life. This is quite important because it’s not a smart decision to have to bother about spending too much or burning through cash unwisely. A good spending plan will give you some sort of freedom that reckless spending will not.

● Gives You An Insight Into Potential Emergencies

When you have your finances in such an organized manner, you will be able to find out beforehand if there are any problems on your way, and you will be sufficiently equipped for them. You will never be in a fix for money: When you have a laid-down plan of what you need and how much you’re getting it, sporadic spending will be abolished. You never have to worry about money because your plan does it for you.

Now that we have answered why you need a spending plan, it is time to explain how to start a spending plan. Dive in!

STEP 1 – Ask Yourself the Big Question

What are my financial goals? This is the most crucial step as it is a mind thing. It is essential to identify where you want to be financially in the future.

  • Identifying your goals gives your spending plan purpose and a positive direction.
  • It is important, though, to remember to set achievable goals.
  • Many people, quite erroneously, set goals that are infinitely beyond their reach.
  • This should be avoided at all costs. Your goals should be attainable.
  • Are you planning to own a home of your own? Make sure it’s a home you’ll be able to afford.
  • Or you are planning to go on a vacation to the Maldives. Ask yourself if your income can afford that.

You must always remember to weigh your income against your goals.

STEP 2 – Draw A Plan For Your Goals

Now that you have found out what your financial goals are, you’ll need to start working towards them.  Draw up a detailed plan on how you intend to reach your goals. How much are you willing to cut down on?

Pro Tip: Personal Capital is an online financial advisor and wealth management company that offers services like these. They have a unique spending plan template for most of your financial goals.

Good to Know:  Personal Capital’s spending plan worksheet is a must-have if you need to get your business and spending sorted.

However, even a pen and paper can work when it comes to drawing up a plan for your goals.

Write your goals down and make a detailed explanation of how you plan to get there.

STEP 3 – Compare Your Earnings with Your Spending

How much do you earn and how much do you spend? You’ll find that the answer to these questions will clue you in as to how and why you spend so much.

Your spending should never be higher than what you’re earning; if it is, it is time to make some important money decisions. You should draw up a spending plan worksheet as soon as you can, ask yourself some pertinent questions and input the answers in your sheet.

  • Do you earn by the hour or are you on a salary?
  • Are you an entrepreneur? How much do you spend on gasoline after your income?
  • How much do you spend on electricity bills and phone bills?

These are the big questions, and when you answer them, you’ll find that a spending plan is much more important than you realized.

STEP 4 – Cut Down On Your Spending

If you are the type that spends sporadically, you’ll need to stop for your spending plan to work. You don’t need to purchase the latest iPhone XS Max when your iPhone 8 plus works efficiently-well.

Pro Tip: You do not need to buy The Mercedez-Benz e350 when your Mercedes-Benz A-class works fine.

Good to Know: When it comes to the question of how to start a spending plan, we find that this is one of the most important things to remember. You need to cut down on the unnecessary expenses.

How to Go About It? Make sure you only visit McDonald’s when you absolutely need to. Or go to Comic-con only when it is imperative. It’s not about not spending; it’s about spending wisely.

You need to remember that you are on a plan. You have a goal, and you are going to have to work towards it.

STEP 5 – Isolate Your Needs

Remind yourself, dear friend, that your needs are not your wants. Whatever it is that you can live without is not a pressing need. And when you’re about to start a spending plan, you should separate your needs from your wants.

Good to Know: A crucial piece of advice is to not spend recklessly by buying stuff that’ll end up in your basement or the attic. You should always live within your means! As important as it is to cut on spending, you must not deprive yourself of your needs.

Pro Tip: If you need to take your vehicle to the mechanic, you should. If you need to buy a birthday gift for your daughter’s twelfth birthday, you should. Never deprive yourself of your needs.

It’s your wants that demand a cut down not your needs and knowing the difference will help you keep a good spending plan.

STEP 6 – Revisit Your Financial Goals

Are these goals the same ones you had when you began? If they aren’t, what changed? It is important to look at these goals again not only to ascertain how close you are to your goals but also to gauge your success or failure.

  • Take a deep breath, look at your goals and ask yourself: How am I doing so far?
  • Are you making progress at a fast rate? Or are you a little behind schedule?
  • If you’re not, you must remember this is not the time to fret as it is okay if you are behind schedule. Some days could be more stringent than others.
  • If your goals are not realistic, you need to make an important decision to either change them completely or modify them a bit.

Most importantly, you need to work on them. Do this, and you will see your financial situation improve in no time.

STEP 7 – Record Every Information

Record every single information along the way. The data will help you understand what has been going where. Record every dollar and cent you spend. That way you can have an idea of how much you spend on what, where to cut down and where to ignore.  By experience, words put down are significant. You must note all expenses.

Pro Tip: You must write down every dollar you spend on food and every dollar you spend on rent. Every expenditure, income, and emergency outlays must be recorded. This way, you’ll be able to keep track of your finances. In the long run, you’ll find this important and useful.

When you reach your financial goals, you can look back on your journey and admire your resolve. You can look at where you need to work on, where you can cut down on, and where to improve.

Remember you have to note every word, every expense, and every dollar spent.

STEP 8 – Challenge Yourself

Imagine that all you had left of your upkeep funds were $2,000. How do you spend it?  Do you choose to buy that beautiful Oyster Perpetual GMT-master Rolex that you saw in the commercials? Or do you spend it all on a ticket to New York City? Any course of action here is meaningful but for a man with a spending plan, is it smart? Certainly not.

Pro Tip: Challenge yourself and limit yourself in the purchasing you make. Do not spend cash you don’t have on a Fendi bag you can’t afford. This is where you need to work on your mentality. You need to push yourself here. It can be quite difficult to ignore a nice pair of Jordan’s staring at you from the mall. But some cutting down must be done. It is going to be tough at the beginning, but it’ll help you escape tougher times in the future.

STEP 9 – Go Easy on Yourself

It is pertinent to remember that all of these has to be at your own pace. Starting a spending plan can be challenging especially when you’ve never planned one. Do not be discouraged if things are going slower than you expect. Do not lose hope if you’re still a ways from achieving your goals. You’re moving; you’re progressing. That’s all that matters.

Keep in Mind: If you find out that you’re not making as much as you deserve or you feel that you’re not saving as much money as you should be, don’t beat yourself up. You are a work in progress, likewise your plan.

Pro Tip: We have found out that using financial advisors could be pretty life-changing and there are only a few ones around. Personal Capital is one of those few. If you ever feel that you’re not getting where you want to, you can always reach out to them for help.

However, do not forget to go easy on yourself.

STEP 10 – Talk It Through with Someone

If you’re married, make sure you keep your partner in the loop. If you live with someone and you have to share bills, you should probably tell them what is going on. You need to tell them you won’t be able to afford luxuries you used to. Tell your children that you’re cutting costs on Wi-Fi and are channeling the saved money into their school.

Good to Know: It’s never a good idea to keep a spending plan away from those close to you, because well, a spending plan will positively affect your social life. You need to tell them that you can’t afford to go to the cinema every Friday because you’re cutting down on costs. You need to tell them you can’t go on that yearly vacation to Costa Rica anymore. Be open and plain with those that your actions and inactions will affect.

A spending plan doesn’t always have to be a personal thing. You have got to tag your loved ones along too!

STEP 11 – Be Ready for Emergencies

Every month will not be the same for you; you have to remember that. So you need to work with what you have at a time. Unforeseen expenses may sometimes fall in your path. Your son may need to pay for a school trip, or your wife may need to shop for the pregnancy.

Pro Tip: A good spending plan assures that you’re safe no matter what. Set aside a reasonable amount for cases of emergencies to avoid reckless spending.

This is one of the few things that make a difference in a spending plan. Emergencies may change everything about your plan. So it is quite important to keep cash aside for circumstances that may occur.

This may be difficult to do but look on the bright side. If emergencies occur, you can pay for them if they require money. If they do not, that money set aside can become good savings that could be invested somewhere else later on. It is important though to make sure that mistakes do not occur when it comes to a spending plan. When working with figures, a mistake can occur, so a careful, detailed approach is advisable.

Wrapping Up

A well-written spending plan will make sure that your financial welfare is top notch and you never have to worry about irregularities and even debt. You must remember, however, that most of the work must come from you. You must task yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.

Bonus Tip: You must make constant changes to make sure that your finances are not in a tangle and you can dig yourself out of any hole your financial choices may have put you.  Remember you must compare your past spendings with your current one so that you have a clear view as to what to improve, modify and change.

Building a plan is hard work, and it requires a hard worker who is willing to cut, take risks and stretch himself financially.

We live in a chaotic world where everything is so disorderly; where would we be without plans?

Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in July 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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