Budget can feel like a daunting word – talking about money, in general, can feel stressful especially when the economy is vulnerable. Living within your means is often easier said than done if you’re not equipped with the resources and mindset you need to successfully manage your finances.
All hope doesn’t have to be lost. With these seven tips and tricks, you’ll be on track to meeting your financial goals with room to enjoy yourself along the way.
Streamline Your Expenses
Most adults will find themselves juggling multiple accounts, bill or debt payments, and a list of expenses. In order to tactfully manage the comings and goings of your finances, streamlining the process and merging all of your data into one service can make all the difference. Nowadays, budgeting has become easier and more efficient to understand through the use of mobile budget apps.
For those who previously relied on receipt collecting and spotty math to stay on top of things, a budgeting app can help you manage your money and any outstanding debts. This convenient tool can help keep you on track while you pay off your short-term, high-interest debts first – while low-interest payments can be left until you’re squared away.
Try the Three-Category Budget
Overspending typically occurs in particular categories – including dining out, purchasing new clothes or gadgets, and entertainment. The goal of the three category-budget is designed to focus your attention on the areas where you’re having trouble cutting costs the most. Monitoring those expenses weekly should leave you with more accountability and a clearer picture of where you may be overspending.
Avoid Shopping the Sales
Any financial institution, lender, or thinker will give you the same advice – don’t fall for sales. There are at least two times per calendar year where you’ll see almost every major retailer announce a massive sale – the purpose of these sales is simply to get rid of the current inventory so they can make room for new arrivals.
The abundance of savings is marketed to consumers as a necessity rather than the reality, which is that these are non-essentials that are often impulse buys and cause us to overspend.
Brands often practice psychological persuasive marketing, both online and in-store, because it’s been proven that consumers will purchase more items than they actually need. Understanding these tactics will help you become a more thoughtful, strategic shopper.
Implement the 50/20/30 Plan
This budgeting tool – popularized by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, was designed to help break down our post-tax income and organize expenses into three categories. Fifty percent should be going towards essentials – including rent, utilities, minimum credit card payments, and groceries.
Once essentials are taken care of, 20 percent can be allocated towards your financial goals – such as your investments, emergency savings, and any loan payments. The remaining 30 percent is allocated towards entertainment. This method is designed to offer the best of both worlds- saving and spending.
Learn to Enjoy Staying Home
It’s often more enjoyable to go out with friends, socialize, and enjoy the latest restaurant or attend an exciting event – however if you’re serious about your budget, it’s important to reel in those spending impulses and find the joy in staying home.
Instead of dining out or ordering in, find a new recipe to try. Head to your local library to rent a book instead of buying and enjoy a cozy night inside – or invite your friends over for a game night. Spending less doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice having fun.
Be Careful with Credit Cards
Your credit is directly related to your credit card habits, so it’s important to know your limits. If you’re going to use your plastic, ensure it’s for a purchase you’ve planned for. If something catches your eye but it isn’t accounted for, try adding it to next month’s budget. Generally, you’ll want to avoid spending more than 30 percent of your credit limit – this will help ensure you can pay off the balance immediately.
Save on Subscriptions
Streaming services are undoubtedly taking over how we view television or movies, and how we listen to music. If you’re subscribed to multiple services, you could be seeing a hefty monthly bill. Instead, take advantage of the family plans offered. Most of the major players allow for multiple accounts to be logged in at an additional cost.
If you’re able to go in with friends or family members, you can slash your costs in half or more. Taking advantage of the sharing options allows everyone to save a little more money.
When it comes down to it, budgeting is about accountability. It’s about making the choices that are going to serve you in the future, not only in the present. Through thoughtful planning and utilizing the abundance of resources at your disposal, you’ll see how easy it is to set yourself up for financial success.