Everywhere you look, prices are going up. From housing to groceries to gas, no one can seem to catch a break. So, what are consumers forced to do? Budget. Choosing to budget simply to save money is a thing of the past. Budgeting is not an option, but rather a discipline that everyone must learn if they want to keep their heads above water.
If you tend to be a spender, here are six budgeting tips to keep in mind as you start to save.
Say No to Credit Cards
Budgeting is all about making smarter financial decisions. The last thing you want to do is create debt for yourself. Opening a credit card, no matter how many perks it may have, is not a smart decision when budgeting. You also shouldn’t spend freely using credit cards to cover expenses that don’t fit within your budget. Instead, pay off credit cards and pay for expenses with your own money.
Cash or debit cards should be your only form of payment when budgeting. To make your money work for you, consider using a debit card. This can help you allocate certain amounts of money toward different spending categories. Additionally, some cards come with benefits like a round-up feature to help you contribute to your savings automatically. You pay for purchases as you normally would, but saving some spare change can help your budget.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
To successfully budget, you have to sit down and get serious about actually creating one. To budget, you have to list your monthly income after taxes. Then, you add up all of your monthly expenses and subtract that number from your income. The leftover money is what you can spend freely throughout the month. However, some people recommend that every dollar should be accounted for, and you should get the balance to zero.
Budgeting is all about deciding how your money will be allocated throughout the month. Your fixed expenses will stay the same — rent or mortgage, car payment, and bills. But successful budgeters start fresh every month because no two months are the same. Whether you have a vacation coming up or a night out with friends, every expense should be accounted for.
Work Toward Paying Off Your Debt
While you’re budgeting, a portion of your income should always be going toward paying off any debt. While it can seem impossible at times, a debt-free lifestyle is ideal if you’re trying to improve your financial future. When you zero out your budget every month, figure out how much you can contribute to your different debts.
No matter what the number may be, attacking your debt can be a scary endeavor. Especially when you’re simultaneously trying to budget. However, paying off debt is similar to budgeting in the sense that they both require a bit of planning. Using a method created by American financier Dave Ramsey, you can follow 7 baby steps to become debt-free.
Cut Back in One Spending Category
When people first begin budgeting, they often have one simple realization: that they need to spend less. While this might be true, that one little piece of information doesn’t offer much direction or guidance in terms of how you should spend less. One smart thing you can do at the beginning of your budgeting journey is look at all your spending categories.
Where can you afford to cut back? So many people don’t realize how much they’re spending in one particular category. Maybe it’s eating out, maybe it’s groceries, or maybe it’s having too many unused subscriptions. If you focus your efforts on cutting back in one area, you’ll feel less overwhelmed. Plus, you could quickly start to see a difference in how much you’re saving.
Set Aside Money in Savings
When budgeting, you can’t just take into consideration your regular monthly expenses. You also have to pay off debt and contribute money to savings. This can be disheartening to hear, especially when you’re already penny-pinching as is. But don’t worry, even donating the smallest bit to savings is something to be proud of. It’ll start to add up over time.
An emergency fund is extremely important. When you’re budgeting, unexpected situations can always present themselves, and you must be prepared. From car issues to unexpected medical expenses, there are many curveballs life can throw at you. The best thing you can do is have money aside for these emergencies. Then, you won’t have to put yourself into debt.
Utilize Budgeting Tools
Finally, don’t forget that budgeting tools are your friend. A budget can be simple, but only if you’re experienced. Without the help of a professional, you might feel lost and stressed while building a budget. A tool can help you kickstart your budgeting journey by making the experience seamless.
Most budgeting tools don’t just help you create a budget. While enjoying the user-friendly functionality of budgeting tools, check out other available features. You can also access insights about your spending and goal-setting features to help you grow your savings. Do the research and find the right tool for you. It’ll make budgeting a breeze.
The key to budgeting is confidence. Confidence that you can do it, stick to it and get back on track even when you make mistakes. Like all things in life, you’ll get better at budgeting with practice. You’ll also likely make mistakes and learn from them. As long as you set clear goals and go easy on yourself, you can easily make budgeting a part of your lifestyle.