If your worries about cash are keeping you up at night, then that’s a good sign that it’s time to do something different with your budget. We all have months where we wonder whether we’re going to be able to afford certain bills or expenses. However, if you’re cutting costs desperately every week, trying to find enough money for your typical expenses, then something is wrong.
The good news is that a good budget can easily transform your life and give you more control over your cash. Having a budget isn’t about telling yourself what you can and can’t do; it’s about making sure you know what you can reasonably afford.
Here’s how you can make the most of your budgeting strategy.
If you’re married or living with someone, then it’s not just your expenses that you need to consider when you’re creating your budget. That means that you’re going to need to sit down with your partner and do some planning based on shared goals that you both want to achieve. Try not to make the experience feel too much like a chore if you can – some delicious snacks and a good playlist can make the whole process a lot easier.
Getting on the same page as your partner for your budget is one of the easiest ways to avoid annoying arguments and keep your life in check. It also means that you can strengthen your bond by feeling like you’re working together towards the same targets.
While you can use the same basic framework for your budget every month, you’ll also need to understand that every month comes with its own unique expenses. In September, you might need more money for back-to-school supplies, whereas in the summer, you’ll need cash for extra drinks and refreshments when you’re out and about.
Adjusting your budget to each month that you’re in will help to ensure that you don’t make any dangerous mistakes that completely throw you off balance. If you’re worried about having time to alter your budget, just put some extra cash aside for “monthly expenses” when you’re planning what to do with your cash.
Budgeting can seem like an exhausting process at times. When you’re first getting started, it’s not much fun to track every penny or hold yourself to super high standards. However, tracking your progress can help you to feel like you’re really getting closer to your goals. Keep an eye on how much money you’re saving each month, and make sure that you celebrate those little wins – no matter how small.
Tracking your budget carefully will also help you to pinpoint areas where you’re most likely to have problems with overspending. This could mean that you can start coming up with strategies to avoid further spending issues in the future.
We’ve talked about putting money aside for the extra monthly expenses that you encounter throughout the year – but what about those unexpected expenses that you just can’t plan for? A small amount of cash put aside throughout the month can help to give you a buffer incase something goes wrong. This cash can be used for anything – from a flat tyre, to a takeaway when you’re sick and you can’t be bothered to cook.
While you’re at it, remember to give yourself plenty of grace. It can take a few months before you get a handle on some new spending strategies. Changing a habit is hard, and there’s a good chance that you’re going to make some mistakes before you find your groove.
Finally, don’t give yourself the freedom to spend without thinking. Credit cards make it all too easy to flash a piece of plastic and forget all about the money that you’re using. It’s not until later when you’re taking out a personal loan to consolidate your credit card debt that you realise how much you have really been spending.
Stick to a debit card if you need to use plastic so you can see the cash coming out of your bank account and keep track of it. Additionally, make sure that you use cash as often as possible for problem spending areas. When you only take a certain amount of cash with you on shopping trips, you’re a lot less likely to overspend.