1. Live-Track Your Spending
One of the best ways to help yourself to keep spending on track is to track it. Often, just being able to see your bank balance and your spending history can help you make smarter budgeting decisions. This is called a feedback loop, where what you know influences what you do. One of the best tools is Mint, a platform you can connect cards and accounts to for convenient oversight and management. Mint allows you to see your finances with an overview dashboard and zoom in on details like spending per card or even categorized spending to see how much you've spent on - for example - fast food vs groceries.
Live-tracking also means that you can check your balance and recent transactions from anywhere using an app or other update feature. Live-tracking can help you quick-check your balance and get a better perspective on spending decisions before you make them. Often, just knowing you are approaching certain account milestones will help you limit your spending without a restrictive budget.
2. Budget for Something Special
Want to motivate yourself to save? Give yourself something to save for. It can be depressing to deny yourself funds and instead sock them away for a rainy day - no matter how smart the decision might be. But if you want something special and are saving your money to buy it, then every saved dollar is motivating instead of demotivating. Whether you're saving up for a car, a laptop, or a personal vacation, that special something will make every budgeting plan feel that much sweeter.
Pick one big thing that will take a while to save for. Decide how much you can afford to save each week or month and set that aside. Then anything else you save in the month is put into your savings.
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3. Tune-Up Your Regular Spending
Much of the time, you don't need major budget cuts or changes. You just need to tune up your existing spending habits. Often, we miss where money is being lost in routine and the budget gets smaller without even being noticed. So tune up your regular spending routine, like creating a house budget, and find out where it can be improved. Maybe you don't mean to spend so much on snacks at work, or your movie budget could comfortably be a little smaller without changing your world.
Track your spending to get a feel for your regular habits. Then tune them as you go to enjoy your lifestyle without feeling too budgeted.
4. Set Yourself Spending Allowances
Instead of setting budgets, set allowances. It feels like a bummer to think "I can only spend this much" so turn that psychology around. For things that are purely fun and enjoyable, give yourself a spending allowance. Encourage yourself with treats that would normally be cut by your budget. This not only helps you save on splurge items, but it can also help you remember to savor every delicious bite or indulgent moment of treats you buy with a budget allowance.
5. Set Up Automated Bill Payment for Better Budget
Let's say your budget can handle the basics but you often find yourself short on bill money anyway at the end of the month. This is a simple matter of not pre-calculating for the bills you know will come. The best way to deal with this other than a tedious budget is simple: automated bill payment. Many services offer automation and will simply complete the payment transaction on the right day of each month.
This way, bills take care of themselves and once they are auto-paid you cannot accidentally over-spend your bill money when calculating for other monthly costs.
6. Cut the Expenses You Don't Enjoy
Cutting is one of the least pleasant parts of budgeting - unless you cut with strategy. You don't have to start with your favorite luxury items. Instead, start with things you've been paying for but don't enjoy. Got an old streaming TV channel you don't watch anymore? Cancel that subscription? Buy a crummy lunch at work every day? Cut that expense and try tasty from-home sandwiches for a while.
Instead of cutting the things you like, start by cutting things you don't like.
7. Turn on Balance Alert Texts
Finally, get your phone involved. We don't just mean tracking your spending and using budget dashboards. You can also turn on text alerts to help you with a smarter approach to your banking and saving. The most useful alert for most people is the low-balance alert. This simply lets you know when your account is approaching a low number or zero.
Some services let you set a custom balance alert, giving yourself a custom bumper or landmark for your own personal finance management. You can use some account alerts for useful methods other than simply tracking your bank balance.
Learn How to Keep a Budget
Sticking to a budget doesn't have to mean budgeting much of your time, energy, or items. For more insights into managing your personal finances wisely even when you want to dodge the budget, contact us today.