7 Highly Useful Personal Budgeting Tips
Everyone wants to save money and be frugal, but only a few like to stick to a personal budget. Who wants to write down everything they spend their money on every single day? No one, really.
Yes, budgeting can be a hassle, but it's necessary to pay down debt and keep personal finances in the best shape as possible.
Budgeting will help you track your expenditures, so you know where most of your income goes. You can make cutbacks accordingly at times when you are trying to save or pay off a loan. Budgeting comes naturally to some people, but most others have to make an effort. So, if you find budgeting stressful, confusing or an overall hassle, here are some tips that will help you manage better:
1. Use Helpful Software
If you find it bothersome to track down your expenses on an Excel sheet, consider easy-to-use software instead. If you do everything manually, of course there will be a lot of work to do. Therefore, web-based software and mobile apps like Mint, GnuCash or BudgetSimple will help you track your spending with little effort on your part.
2. Try the Envelope System
This is a simple method to control spending that doesn't require you to watch your expenditures like a hawk. First, go to the store and buy a handful of envelopes. Mark these envelopes as "groceries," "utility bills," "mortgage" and so on with the things that you usually spend money on. Then, put an estimated amount of money that you will need for each of these categories in the envelopes. For example, if you spend about 500 dollars a month on groceries, put this amount in the designated envelope. Then, each month, spend only the money in each envelope for each category. This is the envelope system. Read more about it on Dave Ramsey's website here.
If you don't use cash, you can alternatively open different bank accounts that you can use separately for paying loans or buying food.
3. Save before Spending
Financial experts overwhelmingly stress the importance of saving money. You absolutely need an emergency fund at hand to dip into when the push comes to shove. Therefore, each month, before you spend money on anything, deposit a small amount at a savings account. If are particularly keen on saving, you can have multiple savings accounts for emergencies, retirement, or for a vacation in Aspen for example.
4. Track Your Indulgences
If you don't want to track all your expenditures, you should commit yourself to tracking at least the money you tend to overspend. For example, if you are prone to going over your monthly limit for your shopping budget, then you should keep a careful eye on this expenditure category over the others. If you have set expenditures each month for utilities for example, you don't need to monitor those hawkishly. However, you do need to be careful of your entertainment or shoe shopping budget, where most people tend to overspend.
5. Reduce Waste
This is an unusual budgeting tip. Everyone knows that reducing waste at home is a good way to be environmentally friendly, but did you know that it also saves money? Modern consumers tend to spend a lot of money on goods that they use for a short while and then discard. Financial experts advice that instead of spending money on things that you will eventually throw away, buy things that last on the long run. Live like you don't own a trash bin, advices personal finance blogger Kerry Taylor. That way, not only will you save planet earth, you will also learn to spend money thoughtfully.
6. Consider the 50/20/30 Plan
Introduced by banking expert, Harvard professor and Senator Elizabeth Warren in one of her books, the 50/20/30 plan can help unsure people design a budget they can stick to. If you choose this method, 50 percent of your income will go to necessities like food and utility bills, 20 percent will be dedicated towards savings, and 30 will be available for lifestyle and entertainment options. It's simple enough and easy to follow for anyone.
7. Work with Your Partner
If you share finances with a spouse or a partner, it's important that you two discuss how to manage the budget together. Both parties should be on the same page if you want the budget to actually work. Attitudes regarding finances aren't universal. It's highly likely that your partner has different opinions regarding how to manage the household budget. It's crucial to address such differences in opinion and reconcile if you want the budgeting plan to work.
Last but not least, don't forget to reward yourself occasionally. Allow yourself some extra money once or twice a year to indulge in an activity that you really like doing, such as eating out or watching a movie. Be careful not to overindulge.
If you meet a budget goal, or pay off a debt, these will be good occasions to give a present to yourself for a job well done.