We’re off to the running and 2024 is well underway. Sure, it might be the first week, but if we don’t get started achieving those goals now, we’ll never get the results we desire. And financial goals are no different. The sooner you start with a successful 2024 budget, the better off you’ll be at the end of this year and as you start 2025.
But before we jump into seven things to consider for a successful budget, I want to remind you that budgeting is an art, not a science. Sure, there are numbers and they all have to add up, but you will have to rework your budget until it works for you. It won’t be perfect the first time, so give yourself (and your family) grace as you move through 2024.
Even Small Changes Add Up
The first thing to consider as you work to create a successful 2024 budget is that even small changes add up to big results.
When Justin and I started our first budget, we were zeroing out the bank account every month and we didn’t have a lot of money above and beyond our expenses. So, it took getting creative with small changes to start to see that needle move.
You might consider:
- A library rental instead of a new book purchase. If you’re an avid reader like me, that might save you a significant amount of money each month.
- Use YouTube to find a workout video instead of keeping (or signing up for) a gym membership.
- Leave just one thing behind at the grocery store each week. Even if it was on your grocery list if you know you could live without it, then leave it behind. That could be a little chunk of change at the end of each month.
…and these are just a few ideas to get you thinking about those small changes. The key here is to make sure that you don’t just spend the money that you saved randomly. Put it toward whatever financial goal you might have for 2024. It won’t seem like a lot at the start, but it’ll add up over time.
The second thing to consider as you build that successful 2024 budget is any life changes that have recently occurred or will take place in the upcoming months.
These could include:
- Having a new baby,
- Your child going to a new school,
- Job Change
…or anything else that will positively or negatively impact your finances.
By thinking about these things ahead of time you can incorporate the associated expenses or increase or decrease in income into your budget so that you can remain financially responsible as you work toward achieving those financial goals.
Plus, you don’t want to be caught unaware with no diapers OR money in the middle of the night when the baby is awake and screaming. Right? Just something to consider.
Major Housing Expenses
The next thing to consider as you create that successful 2024 budget, is your housing situation. If you rent, this could come down to any increases in rent that might come over the next year. If you know that you will need to resign your lease in August and your landlord will likely increase your rent at that time, make sure to account for that in your budget so that it won’t come as a complete surprise.
If you own a home, this is a good time to consider what home maintenance or remodeling expenses might be necessary in the upcoming year. If you know your water heater is on its last legs or there’s a plumbing or electrical situation that’s going to need some attention, then these might be things to keep in mind as you plan your budget.
In addition to our emergency fund, we’ve chosen to use a savings fund to offset some of these expenses. That means that I put a certain amount of money into that fund each month and then, when something major happens, we can use that fund before dipping into our emergency fund.
Of course, you can’t account for everything that MIGHT happen, but it’s always good to prepare for the future if you can.
Look at The Entire Year
It’s easy to get caught up in building a budget for any given month without thinking ahead to the entire year. We tend to make goals for a year time frame but forget to create an action plan (a.k.a. our budget) that will help us meet the goal for the entire year.
So, with that in mind, make sure that you are considering the entire year as you plan your budget. You might think about:
…and anything else that applies to your specific situation.
These are all items that can be created as savings funds and added to each month OR you can just be aware that the expense is coming and that you will need to accommodate it at that time.
Do what works for you, but don’t let these things ruin your budget or keep you from achieving your goal.
Every Expense Matters
The next thing to consider is that every expense matters. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Last month we had an outstanding check come through our account. It was written by Justin back in September and not cashed until December. So frustrating. Of course, I had just a little leeway in the budget last month so I was able to accommodate that expense, but for the most part – I assign each dollar a purpose and we don’t deviate from that. We were able to incorporate that check, but if there had been several outlying expenses like that one, we would have sunk our monthly budget. It’s not a good feeling.
So, make sure that you are actively tracking and aware of all of the expenses that will come through your account this month and every month going forward. You can take a moment to look through last year’s bank statements to look for anything you may have missed, but make sure you are keeping tabs on all of them going forward.
Trust me, it’ll make your budgeting life much easier AND you’ll be more likely to achieve your goals.
(Tip: If you are new to budgeting, it’s a good idea to set aside a small amount for “incidentals” in case you’ve missed an expense. Over time, you shouldn’t need to do so, but it will help you keep them momentum and still see results.)
Your Long-Term Financial Goals
The sixth thing to consider as you create your successful 2024 budget is your long-term financial goals. Sure, we are looking at 2024 and hoping to make it to the end of the year better off than we started, but it’s important to think about where we see ourselves beyond this year.
- Are you hoping to take a family vacation in the upcoming years?
- Does your dream include owning a home, having a child, or moving across the country?
- Will you be paying for a child’s wedding?
It doesn’t matter what your long-term financial goals are, but it’s important to consider how your budget now will play into the success of whatever goals you do have. Maybe you need to start putting $20 into a savings fund each month for that family vacation.
Take the time now to contemplate what’s that going to look like. And…seriously don’t get overwhelmed or bogged down in this. Because if you are just starting right now with a brand new budget, you might now have any extra. That’s okay. Just keeping things in mind can make a huge difference when you do have a little extra.
Until then, stick to the plan and give yourself tons of grace.
You Can’t Plan for Everything
Finally, it’s important to understand that you can’t plan for everything. You just can’t. Life is unpredictable. There will be things that come up, but the best thing we can do is try to account for as much as possible ahead of time so that we aren’t caught off guard when something does go wrong.
It will go wrong at some point – I promise you. But, by putting this work in ahead of time, you’ll be more likely to weather the speed bump in your budgeting journey and move forward toward the destination.
Build Your Successful 2024 Budget
So, with all that said, if you haven’t taken the time to design your successful 2024 budget yet, what are you waiting for? The sooner you start, the better the results will be.
And…no matter what financial goals you have for this year, the Lemon Blessings Membership can help. This monthly membership offers access to 50+ printables to help you on your financial journey, as well as an inside look into the budgeting process I use, the exact menu plans I’ve created for my family, our favorite low-cost recipes, and even some helpful grocery lists to get you started. Don’t miss a thing. Join HERE.
In the meantime, just know I’m cheering you on!