5 Little Budget Changes That Make a BIG Difference
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We tend to think of budgets in the same category as dirty four-letter words. A sigh and a roll of the eyes and trying to convince ourselves that we’re doing just fine.
Living on a budget doesn’t have to be frustrating and rigid.
I happen to love my budget.
I keep it simple and it gives me peace of mind that I have money when I need it. Here are five budgeting tips I've discovered to make budgeting easier.
1. Use Cash Where It Makes Sense
The beautiful thing about cash is when it’s gone, it’s gone. It allows you to be very mindful of your spending and helps you stick to your budget.
I don’t use cash for everything. It’d be very difficult for me to pay utilities with cash and some other expenses are impossible.
My rule is to use cash if I’m going into any retail location including places like the grocery store, department stores, hair salons, restaurants or movie theaters.
You better believe if you go to the grocery store with only $60 cash you won’t go one penny over your budget. (Who wants to have to put anything back, how embarrassing!)
When your cash is gone, stop spending.
2. Don’t Forget Irregular Expenses
I believe this is the number one thing that breaks a budget.
All those expenses that lay dormant for several months (or even a year or more), then sneak up on you, leaving you with the dilemma of coming up with extra money on the spot.
These irregular expenses are things like tax preparation charges, car registration, kids school clothes, annual memberships and dozens more.
A simple way to plan for these expenses is to save a small amount of money per paycheck for each expense. Then when the bill comes around you already have the money to pay for it. If your car registration was $150, you’d only need to save $12.50 per month (or $6.25 per bi-weekly paycheck) and you’d have enough saved up every year to register your car.
In our family we automate as much as humanly possible.
We put bills on automatic bill pay and even automate our savings with direct deposit.
Many banks have a free bill pay feature and will mail in payments for you. We’ve used this feature to automate payments like my daughter’s piano lessons.
Automation frees up time from budgeting and ensures our payments are made on time. It requires very little maintenance. Just check in to make sure your payment went through for the right amount and you’re done!
4. Be Flexible
There’s no rule that says a budget has to be a ball-and-chain with strict guidelines.
A budget, in it’s simplest form, is a spending plan.
You’re planning to spend your money, right? Just do it with intention and you have a budget!
If somethings not in the budget, you have the flexibility to rearrange your plan, shift some money around and add something to the budget.
You can also give yourself some miscellaneous spending money. Throw a little extra cash in your wallet to splurge and spend on whatever you want … guilt free … because that’s what this part of your budget is for.
5. Give it Time
Living on a written budget takes time to get used to.
The first month, it won’t be perfect.
The second month it’ll get better.
By the third month, you should have a good handle on things, but there will always be flexing and moving of money in your budget.
Each month will be a little different, so pay attention to things that are coming up.
For years my husband and I would spend money as it came in and never kept track.
When we made the switch to living on our budget it was definitely a big adjustment (not gonna lie!)
We stuck with it and after a few short months our budget became one of the best things we’ve ever done.
There’s a freedom that comes from budgeting money.
I know I have money for the things I need and can plan for the things I want. I know an emergency won’t affect my ability to pay my mortgage. When Christmas comes around I’ll be able to pay for it without picking up extra shifts or charging it to a credit card.
People who live on a budget win with money, people who don’t wonder where their money went.
Living on a budget is a blessing in my life. I have a plan in place so I think about money less and enjoy life more.