A budget is something that a lot of people have a hard time sticking to. I’m guilty of being one of them! How about you? Don’t feel bad-struggling to stick to a budget doesn’t mean you can’t budget. It just means you still have yet to find the way that works for you.
After a few trial and errors, I’ve found some easy ways to find the right budgeting method that works for me and could work for you as well.
Here are nine easy budgeting tips for beginners:
1. Set That Budget Goal!
Let’s face it, in order for a budget to work, you need to first figure what your goals are. Sit down and figure out what things you want to achieve by budgeting and write them down. Having and seeing your goals will keep you motivated to stay on track.
2. Check That Spending Habit
Everyone likes to buy things! When you decide to budget, you need to figure out where exactly you are overspending. You have to be completely honest with yourself and not leave any expense out. I used to think I could just wing it and tell myself where I was overspending. When it’s finally on paper, you can see where your money is going, and where it might be better off going towards.
3. Needs Over Wants
To go along with checking your overspending, this is a good time to separate your needs from your wants. Buying clothes when you don’t need is a want. Replacing jeans because your child has outgrown them is a need.
4. Saving While Budgeting
Yes, you can make saving a part of budgeting. Just make it another bill in your budgeting plan. Even if it’s just a small amount, it gets you that closer to starting a savings that can grow bigger as you get more out of debt.
5. Use Cash Instead of Card
Yikes! This can be very hard for people these days. Most people don’t even carry cash around anymore. This can help make spending feel more tangible.
Physically seeing your money go down makes it more of reality than swiping that card.
Dave Ramsey promotes the cash in envelope method as a great way to help stop overspending.
Once you’ve established the amount you’ve budgeted for each category, each month take that amount and place it in an envelope and label it.
Let’s say you’ve decided that you will allow $25 a month towards coffee spending. So at the beginning of the month you’d place $25 in an envelope with ‘Coffee’ written on it. It’s that simple.
Every time you spend money on coffee during the month, the money must come from your coffee envelope. Any change goes back in the envelope.
Once that money is gone, no more coffee.
This is controlling your spending.
Got leftover money? (High five!)
If you have cash left over in any of your envelopes at the end of the month you can roll it over into the next month or add to savings.
6. Budget For ‘Extras’
Surprises happen! Make room in your budget to allow for unexpected expenses, or that you might forget. This could even be a little thing like if you forgot about your grandma’s 100th birthday.
I love our miscellaneous envelope. Why? Because I’m proud that I can stay disciplined and not dip into it for a want. That is one of my goals that I’ve succeeded already.
(patting my back)
7. Be Flexible
Budgets are flexible. They aren’t set in stone, and as your goals are made, etc. you’ll want to adjust your budget. Of course, major expenses like mortgage will stay consistent, something like utilities change from season to season, so you’ll need to adjust.
.If you have children, think ahead for school expenses, or summer childcare if needed. Christmas is another adjustment-but don’t go overboard!
If this is already stressing you out, don’t fret. Just go through and make a few adjustments by cutting back in one area and put it in another area.
8. Don’t Forget To Treat Yourself
Budgeting is not a jail sentence. Make an envelope for fun. Especially, if you have a partner doing this with you. Money fights come between relationships and you don’t want budgeting to take away your life pleasures.
And you don’t want to get so frustrated that you break up your relationship with your budget either!
Don’t forget that there are free things you can do as well! There are some fun ways that are free/cheap to do for entertainment. If you have a family, you can still do stuff like go out to eat by being creative. Check out places your kids can eat for free certain days of the week.
If things are crazy tight, you might consider finding a way to make some extra money to add to your budget.
9. Be At Peace
Finally, accept your budget and embrace it. Focus on your goals and the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s so easy to see what other people have, or what they spend their money on.
Try not to do that. The grass is not always greener as they say. Your budget has to work for you and your financial situation, without worrying about what Joe Shmoe does/has.
This will take time and practice. Don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes-it’s a learning process. Find things that work to keep you motivated, like little treats and keep those goals in mind.
You got this!