Does sitting down to make a budget sound intimidating or even overwhelming? Relax. Budgeting can be demystified when you use a few of these tips to help you get organized and prioritized. Let’s take a look at some simple ideas you can start incorporating into your budget today. In addition to these tips check out these smart money-management apps that streamline the process.
1. Use an envelope system
Think of this as a physical representation of the money you have to pay bills and spend. Your way more likely to spend carefully with representations of that spending limit. Physical cash envelope systems are easy to find, or you can use a digital envelope system, that will track where your money goes, such as the spending categories in the Mint or Goodbudget apps.
2. Set goals
Create specific goals for spending, saving, and paying off debt. For example, think about paying off that $500 medical bill in six months instead of twelve. While you may have to spend less in certain discretionary categories, such as eating out. You’ll experience a greater level of freedom by setting and sticking to your goal.
3. Learn to say “no”
This may not always be a literal “no”, but self-discipline will save you from overspending time and time again. Keep your commitments and goals for that month in mind. Sometimes that may mean cutting back on your entertainment to pay for a new sprayer on the sink if money may be a little tighter that month.
4. Buy second hand
There are lots of things that you can safely buy second hand. Thrift and consignment stores have bargains on furniture, toys, clothing, and home decor. Many department stores donate items that they have an excess of to thrift stores. Buying preowned items is a more frugal way to replace items, and it’s also a form of recycling. And we could all stand to do our part in bettering the environment. You can stretch your household and clothing spending categories this way, and those are two areas in which spending adds up quickly.
5. Make an emergency fund a priority
Life is full of surprises. That doesn’t mean you can’t be unprepared for them. Set up a savings account for emergencies like a major car or house repairs. This can save you a lot of stress and debt.
6. Barter on those bills
Learning to haggle on things like phone and WiFi bills could potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year. Whenever you see a letter informing you of a rate increase on one of your bills, call that company, and ask them if you can keep the same rate for being a loyal customer.
Many power companies will offer you water and power-saving weatherization kits for your place of residence in return for evaluating if your home needs to be more energy efficient.
7. Discuss your budget regularly
Keeping the lines of communication open regularly can prevent a lot of heartaches when it comes to planning your spending and saving when there are two of you involved in spending decisions.
Make budgeting meetings with your partner fun by eating your favorite foods, and agree on a reward for both of you whenever you reach a financial goal.
8. Track your spending
Tracking spending is important. A snapshot of your financial habits can quickly show you what you’re doing well, and what you need to work on. An envelope system can be incorporated into tracking easily, and an app or a spreadsheet to make things easier.
9. Practice makes perfect
If at first, you don’t succeed, start over. The hardest part — finding expense amounts and categorizing your spending — has already been done. You just need to tweak your budget from time to time. Reevaluating your spending priorities from time to time will help you cut out unnecessary spending and determine new financial goals.
10. Just wait on that new outfit
Sometimes shopping is fun, but do you really need to spend that money right now? Before you purchase, pause. Ask yourself if you need that item or if you have enough of that allowance we mentioned earlier to purchase that treat.
11. Educate yourself
Hey, we all have areas in which we need to grow. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take a budgeting workshop online, or talk to a financial planner. They can answer your questions in detail and offer practical solutions for areas in which you may be struggling.
Looking for more budgeting and personal finance reads? Take a look at our other blog posts, and contact us with your questions. We’d love to help you become more budget-friendly!