Does the term easy budgeting tips sound like a contradiction to you?
I have no trouble making a budget each month. It is fairly easy to do. My challenge has been to stay within that budget consistently each month! I don’t want our budget to feel like a noose around my neck. Instead, I want to look at it as a guide we use to be in control of our finances. We want to control our money after all, not let it control us.
In working to be successful in accomplishing our financial goals, I have some easy budgeting tips to share that my husband and I are working to follow ourselves.
If you are working to create a budget for your household (it is NOT as scary or as difficult to do as you may think it is!) my post “How to Make a Budget” has a step by step guide to show you how to do it.
6 Easy budgeting tips
Mindset is so important when it comes to finances. If you are constantly thinking or saying, “I can’t do it!” or, “It’s too hard to make a budget,” or, “I can’t stop spending money,” then you are probably right. We believe what we tell ourselves, especially when we tell ourselves the same things over and over and over and over again.
Do you want statements like these to define you? Do you really want for them to be your reality?
I know that I do not.
Change up the wording of what you say about money. Say these statements out loud instead: “I can do it.” “It is not too hard to make a budget.” “I choose to spend our money wisely.”
Those statements are empowering, aren’t they? Keep saying them. Soon enough, these will be the statements that roll of your tongue instead of what you used to say.
Look at you mindset about money and think of the statements you tell yourself and others about money. Write them down. Now, if they are statements where you put yourself down, are negative, or disempowering, make a new list on a separate sheet of paper. When you are done with this new list, cross off or tear up your old list of negative statements. Keep your new list in a convenient place so you can see it and read aloud you new statements. It may feel a bit strange at first, but it it will get easier as time goes on and you will start seeing results in your mindset.
Our actions follow our thoughts, so having positive, empowering thoughts will lead us to actions controlling our finances, rather than following disempowering thoughts which can lead us into financial difficulties.
2. Keep track of every penny you spend.
This, again, is easier than it sounds. When you write down everything you spend, you know where your money is going. You can keep a small notebook in your pocket or purse when you are out, or log expenses on your phone if that is easier. Then, just log your expenses on your budget sheet at the end of each day or each week. See “How to Make a Budget” for how to create a budget sheet.
The ripple effect of this is that you will be more mindful of how much you spend. When you go to log $56 for some new books and you realize that you only budgeted $20, you know you are done buying books for the month.
Tracking and logging your expenses keeps you more focused on sticking with your budget.
Log every single expense you have. Keep track to stay on track: keep track of your money to stay on track with your budget and your goals.
3. Adjust as necessary.
As you well know, life is not the same every day. We are not robots and we do not have the same things going on day after day, week after week, month after month, or year after year. One month’s expenses will not look identical to another moth’s expenses. This is the nature of life. Adjust your budget each month to allow for these changes.
For example, one month your child may be making her First Holy Communion and you want to have a party. Perhaps an expense you planned for (like a new stove) cost less than you anticipated and you have money left over. (See step 4 for tips on saving.)
Allow yourself to be flexible. Being flexible is not the same thing as blowing the budget. Being flexible means knowing that things will happen in life that are completely unexpected and we need to adjust when they happen. Thinking of a budget as a straight-jacket is not helpful. A budget is a guide we create to lead us financially through the month.
Think of your budget as your financial GPS. When you go on a trip and start out from your destination, you put in the coordinates for where you want to go. You start out on your journey following the directions and things usually go very well. After a little while, you may notice that the road ahead of you is closed and you realize that you need to take a detour. You take the detour and then get right back on track to your destination. This would be like making an adjustment in your budget. When driving, you do not give up entirely when you see the detour and go to a completely different destination. Financially, that would be like completely blowing your budget for that month.
4. Save money.
If you don’t already have one, start a savings account. A savings account serves two purposes. You can budget some money each month to put in this account to save up for larger, planned expenses, like a new stove or a family vacation.
The second purpose of savings is to have money put aside so that if something happens suddenly, you won’t be panicked or unprepared. You can draw from your savings to cover the costs. You can call this your emergency fund if you like; it is only to be touched in case of an emergency.
Set up a savings account if you do not already have one. Put money into it each month. You can do this on a weekly basis or put some aside form each paycheck. Even $20 a paycheck will add up. Look at what you may be able to trim in your budget so you can add more money to your savings.
5. Budget fun money each month.
Budgeting fun money each month is like putting a pressure valve in your budget. When we have a budget that is so tight we resent it and forget that its purpose is to serve us in our financial goals, we can become frustrated and blow our budget, thus undermining our success.
Having even $10 each for myself and my husband to spend, no questions asked, is a helpful tool we can use to help us stick to our budget. We can also budget for a fun family activity.
Fun money releases the pressure to only spend money on our necessary budgeted items. It gives us some freedom in our budget and helps us stick with our budget in other areas. When we budget a little for fun money, our budget feels more like a workable plan than a noose.
Add a category for fun money into your monthly budget. You and your spouse can each have a fun budget. You can create a family fun budget category as well. Have fun as a family and keep to your budget at the same time.
You can do this! It may take some time to get used to if you haven’t been doing these steps consistently in your life, but you can do it. Just begin. Do what you can today. Remember that you and your husband are a team. Work together to create a plan and work together to stick with your plan. Encourage and help one another.
Have hope. Have faith in yourself. Be confident. You can do this.
Utilize additional resources.
Don’t hesitate to get more help if you need it. This article and “How to Make a Budget” have basic ideas to get you started in keeping track of your expenses and making plans for your money. If you want more information to continue on a purposeful financial journey, Dave Ramsey is an excellent resource. You can check your local library for his books or look at the resources on his website: DaveRamsey.com.
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” ― Dave Ramsey