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It's not easy to keep track of what you spend each month. Creating a monthly budget is important so that you know how much money you have and how you are spending it.
A household budget includes income, or the money you have available each month. It also includes expenses, or the things you pay for.
A budget will help you to decide how to spend your money. If you run into difficulties, a budget can also help you make changes to your spending. A budget helps to:
Making a budget is something we all need to do. There is no magic formula – it is simply getting the most from the money we have.
Building a budget is a step-by-step process. The following sections will help you to create and manage a monthly budget:
A budget is a plan on how you spend your money. It includes income, or the amount of money you have available each month. It also includes expenses, or what is spent each month.
A budget helps you decide how to spend your money and how to change spending if you need to. A budget is important for everyone, especially when:
The first step of making a budget is to keep track of the money received and where that money comes from. This includes all money from a job and federal and provincial benefit programs (e.g. Employment Insurance, Canada Child Benefit, Goods and Services Tax Rebate Program, etc.).
Second, keep track of monthly expenses and list them. This includes rent, utilities, groceries and other regular payments you need to make.
Subtract these expenses from your income.
If expenses are greater than your income, you may need to:
If your income is more than your expenses, you should try to save some money for unexpected bills or emergencies.
|Your Income||Your Expenses|
|Canada Child Benefit||$540||Utilities||$250|
|Total Remaining Budget||$84|
If you think you need to change your spending habits, it is important to think about what you "need" and what you "want."
Some "needs" include:
Some "wants" include:
Understanding needs and wants will help you to manage within your monthly budget.
Download the Budget Summary Worksheet and enter your income and expenses. The income section includes spaces to enter all the types of income you may get. Be sure to enter your net income (income after all deductions have been made). The expense section is divided into four categories. Not all may apply to you, but fill out what you know.
At the bottom of the worksheet, your net income is the total of all your income, and your net expenses is the total of all your expenses. In the "net gain/loss" area:
Use the Wants and Needs Calculator to help think of ways to reduce or cut expenses.
To use the calculator, enter the cost of an item in the 'cost' column, and the number of times per month you spend this amount in the 'frequency' column. The result is how much you spend a month on a particular item. For example, if your 'cost' for eating out is $15, and the 'frequency' is 15 times a month, the monthly cost is $225. If you reduce eating out to 5 times a month, your monthly cost is $75. Cutting down on the number of times you eat out each month saves you $150.
Rent or mortgages are regular payments everyone needs to make. This includes paying taxes and insurance.
To make sure your housing fits your budget, consider some of the following:
Sometimes, it may be hard to make mortgage or rent payments on time. If this happens, there are some things that can be done.
If you have a mortgage:
If you rent:
Most landlords ask for a security deposit. In Saskatchewan, landlords can charge a security deposit equal to one month's rent. Some landlords may ask for half of the security deposit when the rental agreement is signed and the rest within two months of moving in.
When you move out, your landlord should inspect the apartment with you:
It is important to have a security deposit returned when moving because this money can be put towards the security deposit on a new place. The security deposit is your money and if you need assistance with having your landlord return it, please see the information below on the Office of Residential Tenancies.
The Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) is an agency that works outside government. They provide information on landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities.
If landlords or tenants cannot settle a dispute, they both have the right to ask the ORT to help settle it.
Make sure to think about transportation costs when making a budget. If you own a vehicle, this includes gas, repairs and insurance.
Some tips to consider:
If you receive income support from the Ministry of Social Services, you can get a discounted bus pass in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Swift Current and Yorkton.
It is important to pay power, heat and water bills on time.
Falling behind on these bills can result in having services reduced or turned off. It can cost more to have them turned back on.
Apartments sometimes include heat and water with rent. Power may be a separate cost. Ask your landlord what is included in your rent.
Homeowners pay their own power, heat and water. Some of these costs may be higher than others because of the size or age of the home.
Alternative heating sources include wood, oil and propane.
Typically, these costs are higher at certain times of the year. In spring through fall, it is important to put money aside as bills in the winter months will increase so you will need to increase the amount of your payment at that time.
Contact your provider to see if they will set up a monthly payment instead of a once a year payment.
Always include food costs in your monthly budget. This is also an area where we can lower what we spend.
Tips to lower food costs include:
Cable and internet are great ways to learn, communicate and be entertained. But how much of these things do we actually need?
Many people pay for more of these services than they actually use. When making a budget, this is one area that is easy to cut back on.
Some tips for saving money:
A phone is something we need, but are we paying for services we don't use? Phone services are another area you can save money when making a budget.
Some tips for saving money:
You can open an account at a bank or credit union with the right identification (ID). The types of ID required usually include any of the following:
People who are not Canadian citizens need to provide documents explaining their current status.
Contact the bank or credit union to know which ID they require.
Before opening a bank account:
Once you have an account:
Identity theft can happen to anyone. You can do a few simple things to keep yourself safe:
Credit cards allow you to borrow money to buy things. They are usually issued by banks, who charge interest and fees on the money you borrow.
Credit cards usually have interest rates of between 18% and 22%.
While credit cards are a convenient way to pay for things, they have some downsides:
Paying with cash usually helps us stick to a budget. If you do have a credit card:
Payday loans are offered by money lenders or local cheque-cashing places. They offer advances on a person's next pay cheque.
Payday loans charge high interest rates or fees on the amount borrowed. These rates apply to the length of the loan.
If you take out a $400 loan for two weeks and the fees are $20 for every $100 borrowed, at the end of two weeks you will owe $480. If this amount remains unpaid for a year, the amount owed will be over $2,000 because of the fees.
Payday loans are not a good option for borrowing. They can leave you deep in debt. Always look for better options such as borrowing from a family member or friend, or working with your landlord and utility providers on a plan to slowly pay down your debt and ensure you are making payments on all of your bills.
Owing money on credit cards all the time is a problem. Because of interest charges, debt can grow and become hard to manage. Avoid:
Do not ignore debt. Instead, consider taking the following actions:
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