Budgeting Key Points:
- Budgeting is made simple through budgeting apps, such as Honeydue and Mint. These categorize your spending, and help you spot where to save.
- In 2021, around 80% of Americans used a budget.
- Some easy ways to save money are shopping sensibly, traveling economically, and carefully managing your subscriptions.
- There are cheap ways of borrowing, which are conducive to living on a budget. By taking out a new credit card, you could benefit from interest-free credit for up to 21 months.
- Use An App Or Spreadsheet To Visualize Your Budget
Budgeting is difficult as it requires attention every time you spend. One way to make it easier is to create a visual budget, which allows you to track your past and present spending, allowing you to plan for future outgoings.
Apps – Many budgeting apps, such as Honeydue, Mint, YouNeedABudget, and PocketGuard are there to help you. You link these apps to your credit or debit cards, and it then shows you where you spend money most. They will illustrate – some via charts – how much you are spending on food, travel, hobbies etc. From this point, you can see where you are splurging, allowing you to make changes. Some of these apps even allow you to set up direct payments to your savings account, to make saving an automated process. Many of these are free, so why not give them a go!
Spreadsheet – For the less tech savvy among us, the budgeting apps may not appeal – and that’s fine! It’s simple to create your own budget. To do this, you simply have to note how much money you have incoming, and how much you have flowing out of your account. You can attach a category to this for yourself. For instance, if you’ve ordered a pizza, you can have a column labeled as ‘food and drink.’ Color coding your spreadsheet will allow you to see which categories you’re spending the most on.
2) Budget Ahead Of Time
Let’s say it’s Christmas time, and you have gifts to buy, but haven’t planned ahead. It’s never too late to start budgeting, but there are certainly times where it’s more sensible. In this case, Christmas rolls around and you don’t have the funds to cover your living costs and buy gifts. The better approach is to anticipate higher cost times of year and budget in advance to ensure you’re ready for them.
Create a calendar that shows you your most expensive times of year. Maybe you have family birthdays in June, so ensure your budget in May is carefully monitored.
To make this even more rigid, you could create a separate savings pot for ‘gifts’ or ‘holidays,’ where you deposit cash especially for such times of year.
3) Pay Your Debts in a Sensible Order
In Spring 2021, the US population shared a cumulative debt of $14.6 trillion, so you’re not alone in managing debts and repayments.
When trying to budget, you should ensure that you pay your debts back in a sensible order, and that will depend on a few factors:
- Costs For Living Comfortably. Your water, food, and electricity bills are, of course, essential to living. These should be paid off before any Netflix bills or iCloud storage debits.
- Interest On Loans. Loans with the highest interest are the most expensive to have, such as online payday loans. Therefore, you should strive to pay these first, as having them rolled over will be incredibly costly compared to lower interest loans.
- Whether Your Loan Is Secured. A secured loan is one that has an asset declared as collateral, which can be seized if debts go unpaid. Let’s say that collateral is your home, which is a common form of collateral. If you fail to pay your debt, you could have your home repossessed. Of course, it is essential to pay all debts, but secured loans that go unpaid will have more severe consequences than other, unsecured loans.
4) Understand And Remind Yourself Of Goals
Budgeting can be mundane, tiring, and strenuous. By reminding yourself of why you are budgeting, you may get that extra kick of motivation. Whether pinching the pennies is to build up a savings pot, an attempt to pay off a loan, or create a retirement fund, it is important to remind yourself.
While you should know your own goals and strive to meet them, you should also remember that for new habits to reap reward, it takes time. There is a time lag between actions and reactions, and that’s okay. Every time you shop in a thrift store instead of designer, every time you buy in bulk and meal plan, and every time you walk instead of taking an Uber, you’re bringing that reaction (saving money!) one step closer.
5) Ask For Help If You Need It
12 million Americans take out payday loans each year. It is not uncommon – or unacknowledged – to need help sometimes.
If you need help, think about where it is best to find it:
- Credit Union: Loans from credit unions are notoriously cheap. Given that they are non-profit organizations, interest on loans is low, however they can often only provide smaller amounts of funding.
- Payday Loan: While the key downside is that these loans are pricey to take out, their main benefit is the speed at which you can get them. You could receive your funds within one day of applying, and may not even need to go through a credit check.
- Ask A Loved One For Help: But only if you know that they can afford it. This is typically a more flexible means of securing cash, but could damage a relationship. Only do this if you’re sure you can pay your loved one back, and be totally honest about your situation.
- Ask Your Employer For A Cash Advance: Which is essentially an early paycheck. Very useful, but finite in how many times you can receive one. Speak to your employer understand what is available to you.