Are you looking for ideas on how to make a budget? Saving money is one step, but we need a budget to know where we can start saving.
With all of the money saving tips floating around the internet these days it can be hard to find tips that will really work. We have pulled together the twelve tried and true tips to help you get you budget on the right track!
Thanks to 401KCalculator for the image.
Budget Tips To Do
When you create your budget, put the amount of money designated for each category in envelopes. You can pull cash out as needed to use in that category(groceries, home repairs, gasoline etc). The trick is, when the envelope is empty there are no more funds for that category until the next month.
Balance your spending.
Look over your bank statements for the past few months and add up the amounts you are spending in each category. This will give you a better idea of exactly where your money is going each month. These numbers should be pretty close to each other. For example, an ideal budget would be something like 30% on housing/utilities, 15% on food (and anything at the store), 15% on transportation (gas and car bill). If your percentages are out of balance, adapt your spending habits. Adjust where you are overspending to be able to push more money into savings or towards other needs.
Start small to save big.
Many people don’t save money because they don’t feel like they have enough to save! If you start small, you can slowly build your way up to saving more and more of your income. Transfer $20 to savings whenever you can and slowly work your way up. Even doing something as simple as getting $5 or $10 cash back each trip to the grocery store can help you save big in the long run! Just $20 a week being squirreled away can pay for a vacation after several months. Think long term, when you pull out even a tiny amount to put towards your savings account, or even cash in a savings envelope at home! Many stores will tell you at the checkout counter how much you saved in coupons or rewards points that day. Run home and transfer that amount to savings!
DIY whenever you can.
There are so many things you can make yourself that will help you save a lot of money. You can make all of your household cleaners – including your own laundry soap and carpet cleaner. DIY Toys are fun for your kids to make AND play with and homemade bread costs only pennies a loaf! If you find yourself spending a lot on a certain thing, consider making it yourself to save money on it! Each of the items listed cost only a fraction of their “retail value” if you make them from home.
Track your spending.
Hold yourself and other family members accountable for spending habits. Make a list of every dollar spent for a few months. Writing down those extra fast food stops or other things that aren’t exactly necessary and seeing how they add up over the month will help give you incentive to stop bad spending habits and replace them with a happy, healthy budget.
Get rid of debt.
Every penny you don’t spend on interest is income! Debt piles up fast and you want to get rid of it as quickly as you can. Start with the smallest amounts of debts first, and pay them off. This way you can work your way up towards paying off your largest debts.
How to Make a Budget Work
Have a yearly spending freeze.
This does require a lot of extra planning, but it is a great exercise that will help you and your family see what is essential, and what is not. Have two weeks out of the year where you commit to spending nothing. Not a single cent! Live off of the groceries that are in the kitchen (eat everything!) and maybe ride your bikes whenever possible instead of using the cars. This can be a great learning experience for kids and adults!
Establish and emergency fund.
This will keep you from accumulating new debt when the unexpected happens. Try to have two or three months worth of your budget in your savings account at all times. If you were to unexpectedly lose your job or some one was to have an extended hospital stay, an emergency fund would help keep you afloat while you work out new arrangements.
Take advantage of free money.
Never say no to money! Use coupons, price matches and shop around to find the best deals. If some one is giving you a discount, take it and save the extra money, even if it’s only a dollar or two. The same goes for free products. Host a clothing swap, toy swap or even take hand-me-downs. Some restaurants offer special freebies for kids if you know where to look.
Make a goal and stick to it.
Decide what you are savings toward and think of it often… Maybe you want to pay off all debts within a certain amount of time or buy a new home. Whatever your goal, think of it every time you are at the store and tempted ot overspend. “Do I really want this new pair of shoes more than I want to pay off debt?”. Keeping your goals constantly in mind will help build self control and make you more likely to achieve them! They also provide the opportunity for you to reward yourself if you make it. It is almost impossible to save without seeing results or working towards something. Have a goal and a celebration in mind when that goal is achieved!
Re-do your auto deposit from work.
Instead of sending the full amount to checking every paycheck, you can have them place a certain amount in savings. That income will never touch your checking account, so you will be less likely to spend it! Pretend like you are being paid less than you are. This way you can train yourself to live beneath your means and save more money towards your future!
Plan ahead for upcoming expenses.
While you might not know the exact day things will break, you can make guesses and plan accordingly. If you have a 10 year old roof, then you know that you will need a new one in the next 5-10 years. Do some price checking and start saving an appropriate amount each year so that you will have that money on hand when the time comes. The same goes for other recurring but not regular expenses. Oil changes, air conditioners and appliances that need replaced, a new car or even Christmas expenses! Saving a bit every month towards these categories can help the unexpected be not quite as nerve wracking. You can’t plan the exact date you’ll need the money but you can do a lot to be sure it will be there when you need it!