Almost everyone has a complicated relationship with money. Some people live without looking at tomorrow, others scrupulously save and then do not spend their savings, and someone may even think that earning big money is for the chosen ones. But money is not a sacred object. Everyone can learn how to manage them, and everyone can save and multiply them.
You may think that taking care of your expenses and managing your budget is quite a complex and additionally dull activity, but you won’t get far if you forget about it. We’ve prepared some tips for effective and stress-free budgeting that will allow you to sort out your personal finances in the most beneficial way.
Determine Your Fixed Expenses
Some expenses are just inevitable. Most of them are monthly payments such as rent or mortgage, food and fare, utilities and debt payments, or additional costs like fuel and general car maintenance, or Period X insurance for your business. You can also put your subscriptions and gym membership here, meaning this category should cover all the payments that you need to make during the month to continue living your life comfortably.
Identifying the total sum of your necessary expenses will allow you to determine which part of your personal finance it takes every month and help you plan your savings. Knowing the precise amount of money you spend on essentials makes it easy to understand how much money you can allocate on variable expenses, like having dinner out or going to the cinema.
It also makes dealing with finances in the next month less stressful, as you now know exactly how much money you will be able to save or spend on yourself after all the fixed expenses are paid.
Track Your Spending Effectively
Tracking your spending should become your primary financial habit, but make sure you do it effectively. Finance tracking tips vary significantly in their forms, so make sure to choose the one that works best for you. You can create an excel spreadsheet or envelope system according to your needs, find a free template on the web, use a budgeting app, or just pencil and paper.
The main point is to identify your expense categories, record all your expenses every day, and monitor them. Start with checking account and credit card statements first. It will help you identify categories in which you tend to exceed the desirable limit and items that you no longer need but continue to pay for (like subscriptions that should have been canceled a long time ago).
To maintain effective and stress-free budgeting, you need not only to track spending but also analyze it regularly. It will allow you to cut back unnecessary payments and ensure that your income minus your spending equals no less than zero.
Form a Financial Airbag
Living from one paycheck to another brings a lot of anxiety and stress. It would be helpful to create a financial reserve to avoid such a dire situation. That term describes the amount of money that can cover your expenses for a period of approximately three months to three years. It is the best possible way to ensure your financial stability in emergencies or unexpected reduction of income or job loss, like during the pandemic.
To form a financial airbag, you need to follow three steps:
- Determine your total expenses per month;
- Determine the period of time you would like it to cover;
- Multiply the number of monthly spending with the number of months to get your desirable money reserve size.
For several months it would be helpful to save up the larger part of your paycheck. Perhaps you will need to tighten the belt or find passive or additional income sources, but it will indeed give you financial freedom in the long run.
Automate Your Savings
Sometimes the most efficient way to save money is not to see them at all. Many banks allow you to set an automatic allocation of a particular sum to your savings account, and you can quickly and effortlessly turn it on or customize it by using your bank’s mobile app.
Thus, you will be able to save the desired amount of money the second your salary gets into your account. It is recommended to allocate about 10-20% of your monthly income for savings, but make sure to set a sum that will be comfortable and stress-free for you. You can also choose some cash back options for your credit cards to make your money work for you, but ensure to select them depending on your spending habits and preferences.
Set Financial Goals
Once you are done with your day-to-day expenses, you can finally move to set some goals. Why not do it in the first place? Because you first need to learn to keep track of your budgeting to determine if you can afford any additional, more significant purchases or investments at all.
Create a clear and transparent budget to understand your sources of income and plan your future goals. It will allow you to manage your spare money more effectively and conquer challenging tasks, whether it be buying a new smartphone, starting a debt elimination plan, or investing in real estate.
Taking care of your budget is essential. It allows you not only to know exactly how much you spend on snacks for Netflix nights but also to manage your spending to multiply them.
The truth is, you cannot save money without putting them in order first. Your primary goal should be to rearrange your finances in a way that allows you to live comfortably, meaning not to spend all of your earnings on rent and food only. Then, you will see if you need to expand your income sources or find additional ones.