Saturday, February 8, 2014

It Is Still A Good Time to Budget for 2014

Even though the early months of 2014 have come and gone, now is  still a good time to create a 2014 Pagemonth Home Budget if you haven't begun one yet.  Why?

You should have your income and checking account information in hand now, with income deposited and showing on your latest statement, all bills paid and recorded in your checkbook, and most late adjustments cleared at your bank.

Moreover, you should have had a chance by now to reconcile your first checking account statements of 2014 with your own checkbook entries and balanced your bank statement and checkbook, so you can now plan out the rest of the year.

The point I am trying to emphasize is that there has only been a few months' information to finalize so far--a relatively manageable amount--and it shouldn't be difficult to correct any errors or clear up any questions by a simple call to your bank.

Later this year--say, by August or September, it will become more challenging, as you can imagine.  It's possible to begin a budget in any month, but you won't have anything recorded for previous months.  You will need to enter a beginning balance manually for the month you begin and go forward from then.  If you want to review summary information--say, for filing upcoming income taxes-- you will need to backtrack through the months you missed and plug in a lot of data before you can use it.  Again, it can be done, but it takes much more time and multiplies confusion the longer you wait.  Simply rounding up bills, receipts and other paperwork and trying to organize and record it all can be daunting.

Another unwise home budget approach too many take is to create a 2014 budget early in the year, then ignore it till several months have gone by.  And such users are shocked to find that what looked like a good plan with a good result when they created it in December has come apart at the seams when they turn to it in April, May, or June.

Any home budget worth using plans ahead through the year, true enough, but then gets updated almost daily all year long as numbers and items change and "guesstimates" become more accurate.  No one--including me--can predict what may happen tomorrow, next week or next month.  That's why revising and editing is the normal task of home budgeting, no matter when you create one.

But the benefits of keeping a good home budget up to date are very great, whatever product or service you are using.  It can caution you before you make purchases you need to put off, reward you when good things happen like getting a promotion or raise, warn you in time to head off unexpected repairs, provide buffers that you are comfortable with so when the insurance goes up or the car breaks down it won't sink your plans, and in general let you sleep soundly at night.

The more you budget, the easier it gets.  As your fortunes rise you still need to do it, and during tough times it will show you a way to recover and thrive again.  Our Pagemonth Home Budgets for Excel or MSWorks are free, and our support pages are extensive and also free.  If you want to begin to manage your home finances effectively, we encourage you to download our budgets and templates at the bottom of our homepage.