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Budgeting is a huge financial key that will help you succeed with your money, but it can be difficult at first. If you’ve never set up a budget before, check out my post 5 Simple Tips To Create a Budget and create yours today. With this post, my goal is to encourage you with a few budgeting tips to help you continue along in the process without giving up!
Give It Time
It is important to remember that it takes a while to get used to budgeting. Some may get it on their first try, others may take a few months… wherever you find yourself, just don’t give up. If it doesn’t work perfectly the first month, try again!
It can often take between 2 and 3 months before you start to find your “groove” if you will. Since the budget is changing from month-to-month, it does take some time to really figure out how you best operate and how you like to go about your process.
If you don’t get it right the first time, you’re normal! Don’t give up on the budget!
Make a New Budget Every Month!
It is essential that you make a new budget every month. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that one budget will fit all months. Every month is so different, from holidays to birthdays, and events… they all have their own characteristics. Think about it this way, the way you budget for December and all of the holiday parties and gifts are going to be much different than how you budget for August when you’re preparing for the kids to go back to school or just enjoying summer. Make sure to make a new budget each month that is specific to the happenings of that month.
Include a Miscellaneous Category
This one is important.
My best example was when I went to the post office and I bought some stamps.
I was at a loss for where to put it in my budget because they weren’t groceries, restaurants, or movie tickets… they were stamps. This caused me to start a miscellaneous category that I highly recommend.
Little oddities can go in this category, and the amount doesn’t have to be huge. To this day, our Misc. category only has about $5 to $10 in it monthly and that works for us.
Add in Fun Money
This might make the savers cringe, but I am a saver too so listen if you struggle with this then hear me out.
Each month should have some fun money in it.
It doesn’t have to be a lot, especially if you’re working to get out of debt or trying to save aggressively for something, but you should put some money in a fun category.
The reason is that if you don’t include this category, it will probably happen anyway. If you’re a saver, and you would rather have no fun and just save all your money (like me…) I want to encourage you to remember to include this category. It’s important to always remember that money can be enjoyed.
Again, this is another category that if you don’t include it in the budget, it probably will happen anyway.
The occasional visit to the movie theater or sports tickets, just remember to keep a good balance and ensure that your category amounts are still allowing you to reach your goals quickly and effectively.
Cutting Down Your Budget
Sometimes months come around that require some trimming of the budget because of a low-income month, or an unexpected big expense. Whatever the reason may be, one way to cut back on the budget in an easy way is to reduce multiple categories by a small amount. For instance, if you have the following categories with the following amounts:
Fun Money – $100
Entertainment – $50
Miscellaneous – $30
Instead of ridding the category of fun money altogether, we can first try reducing multiple categories by a small amount to help cut down. For instance, we can cut all of these categories by 20% and it looks like this:
Fun Money – $80
Entertainment – $40
Miscellaneous – $24
By doing this, we cut back $36! I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, especially if you’re in a crunch, but if you do this over multiple categories and not just 3, you’ll see the effect it can have. It does make it a lot easier to reduce multiple than cutting one out completely!
Go Over Your Budget With Your Spouse (Or Accountability Partner)
If you’re married, make sure to go over your budget with your spouse. Be sure to have one of you put it together, but then both of you look it over and talk about the month that is coming up. A good idea is to create and talk about your budget about a week before the next month is coming up (or earlier). This will keep you both involved in the process. The communication going on, as simple as it is to just look it over together, can go a long way.
If you’re not married, find accountability! This can help you if you need someone to keep you on track with your goals. Find someone you trust that can speak into your life, and let them be your accountability with your budget.
Actively Use It!
Be sure to not just create your budget and let it sit there.
Actively use your budget by tracking your purchases and comparing everything against what you planned for. Your budget is not just to know what you think your money should do, it is to show you exactly what is going on with your finances.
In order to know this, you have to be actively tracking your trips to the grocery store, your bill payments, and everything else that happens throughout the month.
You will see that being active and using the budget will keep you on track, and understanding of where you’re at with your finances at all times.
What is your personal tip for budgeting? What has helped you most as you budget your money and work towards your personal finance goals? Let me know in the comments!