Money management is a scary subject for a lot of people. However, budgeting is a lot easier than it seems. A few hours a month of planning can make handling your finances way less stressful.
Check out these nine tips that will take you from a nervous novice to a budgeting boss in no time.
#1 Remember that Budgeting Is Not a Punishment
It’s important to remember that budgeting is a tool that will give you peace of mind and increase your quality of life. It’s not a tool to punish yourself with worry. In a way, it’s self-care! Treat it accordingly.
Before you start, put some relaxing music on and eat some dark chocolate—it’s proven to calm you down.
#2 Look into Different Budgeting Strategies
Ask yourself why you’re budgeting. The answer will help you choose between different budgeting styles. Here are a few popular strategies to keep control of your cash:
- 80/20 budgeting style – 80 percent of your income is spent, while 20 percent is saved.
- 50/30/20 budgeting style – 50 percent of your income is spent on needs, 30 percent on wants, and 20 percent is saved.
- FIRE – This handy acronym stands for “financial independence and retire early.” This budgeting strategy prioritizes getting out of debt as well as saving for retirement.
- Envelope/Cash Only method – Withdraw the money allocated for a specific purpose, such as grocery or clothes shopping, and put it in an envelope. Only having that amount of cash to spend in that instance will prevent overspending.
#3 Take Advantage of Free Budgeting Resources
The internet is a treasure trove of information, and that applies to all things budgeting. From free budgeting spreadsheet templates to how-to videos, Google is your best friend in helping you bring your budgeting game to the next level.
#4 Specialize Your Strategy to Deal with Debt
Maybe you want to learn more about debt prevention. Or, you might want to figure out how to work toward paying off debts you already have. Your budget can be customized to help you tackle whatever your goals may be. There are specific budgeting styles that are tailored towards eliminating debt.
Here are two:
- Pay Yourself First – This style involves taking a set amount of money right from a direct deposit and putting it into savings or toward debt payments.
- Debt Snowball – This method, created by Dave Ramsey, involves making minimum payments on larger debts and paying off smaller debts as fast as possible (rinse, and repeat).
#5 Consider Switching to a Mobile Wallet
Mobile wallets are mobile applications that give you access to your bank account and enable you to pay for certain purchases from your phone. Mobile wallets can assist with budgeting and tracking purchases and receipts. They can even be used to view loans.
#6 Set Up Automatic Bill Payments
You can now schedule automatic payments out of your account for certain bills, which helps to streamline the budgeting process. There is also an option to automatically move money from your direct deposit into your savings account, which is worth looking into as well.
#7 Seek Out Extra Help if Needed
It might be your economist uncle, that friend who went to business school, a wealth management service, or an online course on budgeting. If budgeting continues to stymie you for any reason, you should look for assistance, which can be free or paid, depending on the type.
Choose what suits your resources and needs best.
#8 Plan for Unexpected Expenses
The only thing predictable is life’s unpredictability! Do your best to plan for unexpected payments by putting aside what you can in your budget. That way, when your teenager “loses” their retainer again, or you get that surprise parking ticket, you can be prepared.
#9 Be Realistic in Your Planning
When you’re budgeting, it’s better to be realistic about your tendencies and actions. If you just know that you can’t live without that five-dollar iced coffee every day, factor it into your food budget.
It’s a lot easier to plan for things in advance than having to rearrange your budget after the purchases are made. However, you should perhaps consider making that iced coffee at home.
The Rewards of Budgeting
When you spend time mapping out your finances, the hours and the learning curve might seem like a chore, but it’s actually a great tradeoff. You’ll be secure in your spending and far more protected from the financial difficulties that come with the ups and downs of life.
All in all, you’ll be happier, secure, and with more headspace to devote to the rest of life: work, chores, Netflix binges, and all those paint-by-number nights (don’t forget the wine)!