Living on a Budget - How To Create One...

We all know that teachers need to live on a budget. The problem is that most of us try to keep a 'running tab' in our heads, and then call it a budget. Guess what? It doesn't work!

If you want to get serious about making the most of your teacher's salary, you'll have to actually sit down and write it down. It takes a little planning to create a budget that you can actually stick to, but once you do, you'll see those dollars stretching a lot farther than you ever imagined.

Here's a quick guide to get you started.

Step one: Make a spreadsheet (or even piece of paper with columns) and then create titles for those columns of the things you spend money on the most. Sure, you'll want to include rent, food, utilities and the other normal expenditures, but don't forget the all those little things that add up. Do you drink two cokes per day? That's $42 per month. Have your car washed every week? $20-30 per month. Write down everything for six weeks, then you'll be ready to move on to the next step.

Step two: The next step is to take your average monthly expenditures, and compare them to your incoming salary. Are you in the red or the black?

Step three: Now you should create an "ideal" budget where you would get to spend what you wanted. (While still being realistic)

Step four: Now you'll likely have some adjustments to make! If your ideal budget isn't in line with your "realistic" salary, you have to cut back in some areas. The best way to do this is by subtracting the amount that you HAVE to spend (rent, transportation, etc.) and then dividing up the remainder on your non-essential expenditures. For example, if you cut back to one coke per day, you could still afford to wash your car every other week.

Step five: Stick with it! It's useless to take the time to create a budget if you're not going to stick with it. Promise yourself that you'll give it two months, and then see how you feel.

By Michelle Simmons