Making Money


 minute read

April 12, 2023

How to Make the Budget: Your 2023 Step-by-Step Guide

Published on 

October 2, 2022

As of now, it's challenging to have a positive outlook on the current state of the economy this year. For instance, we're in a recession, and if anyone still denies that it's here or on the doorstep, they are probably wearing a blindfold. In addition, with persistent inflation and rising interest rates courtesy of the Federal Reserve, it can be challenging to make a budget to help you save for the future.

Don't worry - budgeting isn't as intimidating as it sounds; creating one is simpler than you think and doesn't involve complex formulas or calculations. All it takes is some willpower and determination to stay on the course. A budget gives you control over your bank account and can help you reach your goals. With the right strategies and motivation, you can build a bright financial future for yourself.

However, budgeting may not be enough with rising costs at the pump, grocery store, and consumer goods. This article will discuss side hustles, like taking surveys from Zap Surveys to earn rewards and gift cards to help supplement your budget. Earning extra income is a great way to stay on top of your finances in the short-term while also helping you save money.

What is a Budget, and How can Zap Surveys Improve It?

You need to establish a budget if you're trying to save for your future or build a better life. Budgeting involves simple planning, willpower, and innovative tactics that work for you. When we learn to plan our spending, we use our resources appropriately and are more likely to live within our means every month. Believe it or not, your budget is in your control. 

Aside from intelligent planning, you can increase your earning potential by side hustling; the naysayers scream that side hustles are a waste of time. Still, you can earn cash and extra rewards by taking surveys with Zap Surveys. So say goodnight to your everyday monetary crisis and hello to meeting your financial goals. Keep reading for some tips on creating the best budget possible.

Make sure your expenses don't exceed your net income.

Why is Budgeting Important?

Don't feel ashamed if creating a monthly budget doesn't sound like your cup of tea. According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey, six out of every ten Americans don't keep track of their expenses.

There are plenty of reasons to create a budget, such as:

  • College tuition
  • Big-ticket items,
  • Gift-giving to family and friends
  • Saving for a rainy day

With the right strategies in place, such as budgeting, savvy shopping, and timely payments, your hard-earned money will have a massive impact on your life. Creating a budget will make your money go further.

Make plans

One of the biggest challenges of making a personal budget is making ends meet. There's no one-size-fits-all solution to improving your financial situation, but there are several things you can do to help you meet your goals. Before you can meet your goals, you need to discover those accomplishments to have something to work towards.

Set a Goal

Unfortunately, becoming more financially secure isn't enough to convince the bulk of us to budget. Instead of looking at the entire goal, break it down into smaller, more specific goals. Create monthly objectives that are trackable and measurable.

Make sure you're meeting your goals from month to month.

Be realistic with your goals, and don't set lofty expectations; try to keep your plans flexible so you can adjust them as needed. The key here is to focus on the long-term rather than short-term solutions, but you have to remember that you won't meet your long-term goals unless you achieve your short-term goals too.

So, now that we've made that extra confusing... let's continue learning how to establish your budget.

What are Variable Expenses and Fixed Expenses?

Understanding fixed monthly expenses, and variable expenses are part of creating a legitimate budget. Fixed costs remain consistent month after month, while variable expenses can change every month and are influenced by your choices.

For example, your rent or mortgage will stay constant, but you may spend more on groceries during certain months than others. It's necessary to account for these variables when creating a budget, as it will help you plan for the fluctuations.

Examples of fixed and variable expenses are:

Fixed Expenses

  • Rent or Mortgage
  • Car payments
  • Insurance Premiums
  • Property Taxes
  • Phone and Utilities
  • Child Care
Make sure your net income can sustain you expenses.

Variable Expenses

  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Clothing needs
  • Gas
  • Medical bills

How to Make Your Budget in 5 Easy Steps with Zap Surveys

To maintain a healthy financial life, subtract your expenses from your income and make sure the sum is not below zero. Ideally, you'll want some money left over to account for surprises or saving money, but that may require adding to your income. Did you know you can earn rewards taking surveys; anyone can make a budget in five easy steps.

Gathering financial statements

Having a budget isn't magically going to make money appear. Still, it's an essential first step in understanding how to manage it - especially if you're looking for ways to increase your monthly spending power. Gathering your monthly financial statements and bills is a great starting point; this will give you an idea of your monthly total income, which can help inform your budget decisions.

Since you're gathering all your documents, make sure you get things like the following:

  • Bank account statements showing your transactions
  • Any credit card statements
  • Weekly, Bi-weekly, or Monthly pay stubs showing your net income
  • Receipts or statements showing all your monthly expenses

List Your Income

After gathering your documents, you'll need to start determining your monthly income and ensure that you include all income influencing your take-home pay. If you're self-employed, work a full-time job, or have side hustles contributing to your income, your budgeting approach might change, but the result will be the same.

Is your take home pay enough?

Record all sources of income…and don't forget to add Zap Surveys

As we mentioned, write down everything you do to make money during the month; if you sold something on Facebook Marketplace as a one-off, don't count something like that. However, no monthly income stream is complete without adding Zap Surveys. Zap Surveys is the perfect platform to earn extra rewards, cash, and gift cards.

With Zap Survey's flexible platform, you can add actual income to your wallet and earn rewards by taking surveys on the go. So whether at home or visiting your local coffee shop - Zap Surveys allows you to earn gift cards and cash from your Android or iOS device.

How do I calculate my monthly income?

If your income doesn't fluctuate every month, then this step is easy; add up all your income sources, and you're done. However, if your income fluctuates, you'll need to consider how much money you have made each month on average over the past three to six months to make your household budget. After that, you should be fine taking the average of the last six months and extrapolating the monthly income.

Categorize variable and fixed expenses

Get a comprehensive overview of how you spend money and categorize all your expenses from the past month. Group your expenses into as many budget categories as you need to get an accurate representation of where your money is going. Examples include rent, groceries, medical bills, and more--feel free to add or combine any that will help make budgeting easier. Look through a list of suggested budget categories for reference too. At a minimum, you should have these categories:

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Your retirement account distributions
  • Debt payments
  • Child support payments
Groceries are a budget category.

Make a monthly expenses list

Once you put everything into a budget category, put together a detailed list of what expenses you pay each month. This will help you better understand how much money you need for budgeted expenses and other necessities before planning your budget. While a budget plan should remain flexible, it must cover unexpected expenses too.

Add up income and expenses columns

It's time to create your first monthly budget; calculate your total expenses for the last month and deduct them from your monthly income. Use a budget spreadsheet if needed; this will be the fundamental document to track your spending habits. In addition, you can find blank templates online designed explicitly for budgeting. You can do this manually, use a budget worksheet or an online calculator - either way, it all adds up to creating your first budget.

Track your expenses (all month long)

Creating a budget won't do you any good if you don't hold yourself to it. As you go throughout the month, check your expenses weekly to ensure you're on track with your spending limits. While calculating your budget, consider whether you need to make adjustments.

Subtract expenses from income

Now comes the moment of truth; if the difference is negative, you must adjust the month's budget, but you can choose where it goes if you still have some money left. Before spending it, consider putting it in your savings account or paying down debt. Here's where many people fail to succeed with budgeting.

Do your expenses change?

Proper budgeting requires a bit of sacrifice or delaying gratification, willpower, and discipline; budgeting will be a challenge if you don't have any of those qualities. For example, let's say it's the middle of the month, and you've already used up $300 from your grocery budget of $400. This could mean that you were too frugal with your initial budget or, more likely - overspending. Be honest about which is to blame, then ensure you have enough money from month to month.

Evaluate results and adjust accordingly

Budgeting is like an honor system; if you don't tell the truth, you won't be able to stick to it. You can boost your earnings in a pinch by taking surveys with Zap Surveys. Earn rewards in the form of cash and gift cards for each survey you complete, and fill in those gaps when you make a mistake or overspend.

Review the budget monthly

No reasonable budget can continue without continual review and evaluation. So while you need to track spending at least once in the same month, do yourself a favor and review your personal budget again, recalculate any changes in net pay or expenses, then adjust accordingly.

This also prevents you from getting complacent with your numbers, especially if they aren't correct. You're more likely to keep them updated and accurate if you don't fall behind.

Make a New Budget Before the Month Begins

Making a budget is critical for any financial plan; keeping up your plans monthly and transitioning from one monthly budget to the next is the most effective way to save money and reach your financial goals. It's easy to start budgeting, but it takes discipline and perseverance to stick with it.

Create a budget before the next month starts.

If you haven't already and need help with some extra income, consider signing up with Zap Surveys to boost your earnings potential. You can earn extra cash or gift cards quickly at your convenience. Take advantage of other side hustles, and don't take your eyes off the prize.

How to Find More Room in Your Budget?

If you're looking for ways to save on your budget, you could start by reducing your annual expenses. While fixed costs are more challenging to influence, reducing your variable expenses and keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket is possible.

Other methods involve taking a second job or starting up a side hustle. However, if keeping more money in your pocket is one of your goals, signing up with Zap Surveys is a no-brainer. Take surveys for cash and give your opinion with each survey you complete. The platform can help you earn more cash and monthly rewards by simply taking surveys on the app.

The best part is that rewards are tailored to fit your needs, sending you relevant surveys just for you, and you can do it all at your own pace. As great as Zap Survey are, there are other effective ways to optimize your budget.

Adjust Your Debt repayment goals

If you have debt, paying it off should be a priority. You can adjust your payment amounts by adding or subtracting them as needed. Sometimes, you may only be able to pay the minimums on most of your debt, but you can keep avoiding debt and add extra payments later.

Try different budgeting methods to manage debt.

Adjusting your debt repayment goals doesn't have to be permanent; you could cut spending for the month and free up some of that hard-earned money for other things, then tackle it next month. Also, freeze your credit, cut up all but one emergency credit card, and limit your impulse spending.

As much as budgeting can be a challenge, you must not succumb to the temptation of high-interest credit cards. You know yourself better than anyone; lose the credit cards altogether if the temptation is too great.

Stop contributing to your emergency least for a little bit

Yes, it sounds counterintuitive, but eliminating contributions to your emergency fund can be wise if you've just taken a hit from your budget and are still feeling the squeeze. Of course, you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, so opt for a smaller savings goal or scale back contributions until you can get more income.

Are Your Car Payments too high?

If you have a car loan, it could be the biggest line item looming in your budget. You could refinance your car loan with a lower interest rate or find a cheaper car that fits your new budget. Yes, you might have to sell your nicer car and pay off the loan, but there are affordable and reliable cars out there that will get you from Point A to Point B.

Adjust your student loan payments

If you have student loan debt, there are a few ways to make it easier. For example, you could refinance your loans by consolidating them into one loan or choose an income-driven repayment plan. For example, suppose your salary is significantly lower than when you acquired the loans.

What is the average amount of student debt a person accumulates?

In that case, you can apply for an income-driven repayment plan and limit your payments to 10% if you're a new borrower after July 1, 2014, or 15% of your discretionary income if you're not a new borrower. Again, check your state for specifics on IBR plans.

How to make money online?

If you have a bit of extra time on your hands, you can earn cash online without breaking the bank. Signing up for something like Zap Surveys can help you earn rewards simply by completing surveys on the app.

You won't get rich overnight, but budgeting isn't a "get rich" movement. Still, this can be a great way to supplement your income. Plus, it's an easy way to earn gift cards or rewards for doing something you likely do already: give your opinion.

Don't let the naysayers get you down; if you're feeling the pinch, side hustling can be a great way to make extra money. To clarify, we aren't saying that surveys are your golden ticket to financial freedom; you should utilize other money-making methods like:

  • Starting a blog on Medium
  • Doing freelance work on Fiverr, Upwork, or another platform
  • Finding a part-time job as a virtual assistant
  • Selling products and services on Etsy or dropshipping on Shopify
  • Creating and selling an online course
Make some fun money by doing online gig work.

How to earn cash taking surveys?

You can make some extra cash by taking online surveys - it won't get you to financial freedom right away, but these payments will increase your take-home income when times are tough. Finding great survey platforms is easy, but pay attention to how long it takes to complete each survey, how much you get paid for them, and whether the company is reputable.

Zap Surveys never makes you wait too long to get paid; you'll earn cash or rewards like gift cards simply by completing a survey. In addition, signing up is free; you don't need to worry about subscription fees or hidden costs. It's also a legit platform that pays out quickly - so you don't have to worry about getting scammed or, worse, not making those meaningful impacts on your budget.

How Zap Surveys Can Help You Establish a Passive Income Stream

Budgeting is about making the most of your resources and taking control of your finances; however, everyone needs help occasionally. The best way to get help is to help yourself; you can earn cash and rewards by doing surveys you enjoy and giving your opinion with Zap Surveys, helping you build a passive income stream that can help keep you afloat. At the same time, you work to pay off debt or save for a down payment toward your future.

Passive income isn't like regular income.

If you're looking for extra money, side hustles can be the answer - and surveys are a great way to earn rewards while you budget regularly. Zap Surveys is a safe, reliable platform that pays quickly, so you don't have to worry about anything shady. So start taking control and create your ultimate lifetime money plan; sign up for Zap Surveys today and earn cash and rewards on your terms.

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