Learning How To Budget, The Pain-Free Way

by - 8/25/2017 08:33:00 PM

Budget. It’s not the nicest word to hear. Sometimes though, budgeting is a necessity. Whether you’re looking to save for some home improvements, a vacation or you need to cut back after overspending - having to budget is enough to make anyone feel blue. The good news though is that budgeting doesn’t have to be painful - there are plenty of ways you can save some money without having to completely cut back. Learn how to make a pain-free budget and watch the savings come in.

What are you budgeting for?

When it comes to making your budget, your goal will be important for setting how much you need to save. If you have a certain purchase in mind, you’ll need to work out when you want to make it and work backward from there. In some cases, it might be easier to consider an online cash advance instead to help you with more time-dependent purchases. If, however, your plan is simply to be better with money or to pay off some debts, you’ll need to think about more long-term savings. Once you know how much you need to save each month, you can then start making some plans for how you’re going to achieve it.

List all of your expenses - all of them!

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Most people have an unrealistic view of how they spend money. You might know roughly in your head how much you spend on your mortgage or rent and your bills - but what about those everyday expenses that may seem small but are pretty big once you add them up? Make a spending diary over the course of the week and keep all of your receipts. Add everything up on top of your regular outgoings and take a good look at what you’re spending. Do you get takeaway coffees regularly? What about taking cabs instead of the bus? Some of these expenses can be crossed off your list immediately to help you cut back on wasteful spending.

Analyze where instant savings can be made

Some of your regular expenses can be reduced immediately. When was the last time you switched your cable or energy supplier? Shopping around or haggling for a discount could save you money easily each month meaning you won’t have to cut back on some other things. If you’re spending a lot on credit repayments, see if you could consolidate your debts and make the payments easier to manage. You could also try switching to loan or credit card providers who can offer you better interest rates (including 0%) to make sure the money you are paying back each month goes further.

If you have regular payments that you’re not making full use of such as a gym membership or Netflix subscription - it may be time to give them up. Even if you only cancel them for the short term, you can easily find ways of getting fit without the gym or stick with the good old TV for entertainment.

Setting your budget

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After you’ve analyzed all of your outgoings, you can get to work on setting yourself a budget. Once you’ve subtracted your regular outgoings and your savings, you will then see just how much you have left to spend on things like food, entertainment, and clothes. The amounts may be smaller than you’re used to, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy yourself. Sometimes it helps to set two different budgets. A weekly budget will cover costs such as groceries, nights out and your travel, while a monthly budget for treats (whatever they may be) can help you keep the two separate. This way all of your usual weekly costs will be covered, but you’ll know in your mind how much you can spend on other things too.

One tip to help you make the transition and ensure that you stick to your budget is to start paying in cash. Withdraw your weekly budget at the beginning of the week and start leaving your cards at home. This avoids any temptation to overspend, and any money left at the end of the week can be put towards the following week’s budget. If you have any left over at the end of the month, you can either add it to your savings or allow yourself a bigger treat budget for the next month as a reward for doing so well with your savings.

Easy ways to cut back

Now here comes the harder part of budgeting. If you’ve managed to make some great savings so far, you should pat yourself on the back - you won’t have to feel like you’re cutting back as much.

Two of the biggest areas where you can make savings are your groceries and shopping. Grocery shopping is something we all need to do. However, when you’re in a hurry, or you aren’t properly prepared - you could end up spending more than you should. Making a meal plan or a pre-prepared shopping list are just two easy ways you can save money on your groceries. Making better choices about what you buy will not only help you save money but will help the environment too by cutting on the food waste that is currently a hot topic.

Meanwhile, with clothes and other types of purchases, try shopping online to benefit from the wide range of discount codes that are available. You could even try stores like eBay and Amazon that will help you find new or barely-used items cheaper to help you make some savings.

Making some smarter choices like walking to work or cycling instead of driving can not only save you some money but will help you be fitter too. You should be aiming to walk as much as possible to benefit your health, and there are many ways you can get your 10,000 steps a day.  

In addition to cutting back, you might want to consider other ways you can boost your income. Blogging is a great way to make some money doing something you enjoy, and you’ll find some great tips on making money from your blog here. Budgeting may seem like a drag but if you’re smart about your choices, you can save money without it impacting your lifestyle. Learning to budget will help instill some good money habits and help you with your future finances too.

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