Do you have trouble tracking or sticking to a budget? If so, You’re not alone. Many Americans experience stress on a monthly basis when they pay their bills or experience unforeseen situations which always brings unforeseen expenses.
Below are some simple and easy to apply concepts to help you become a better budgeter. Give them a try to help you regain control over your personal finances or household budget:
1. Spending too much while out with friends…. More than likely, they are too!!!
Tell your friends you are working to save money this month and suggest an alternative that would still be entertaining. But, an activity which would either not cost anything or one that would be lower in cost as the proposed activity/ outing.
If you find that your weakness is spending too much dining at restaurants with your friends… Try a “potluck” night. You can host the first one and then you can your friends can take turns hosting a dinner night. Get creative with these. Maybe you want to have a theme or blind tasting contest.
2. Shopping (online or otherwise)…..
I can’t tell you how often I hear this one and women are not the only ones guilty of this budgeting dilemma.
I recommend trying to identify when you are doing this shopping. Ask yourself if it is because you are bored or tired?
If it’s boredom, you will have to work to break this bad habit. Breaking a habit can be difficult. However, it is much easier to accomplish it you work on recognizing the behavior and replace it with something that would be more beneficial to you. For example, replace online shopping with reading a book, taking a walk, go to the gym, or do some other small and simple project which will keep you occupied. You may try out Pinterest, where you can add things (pin them) to your board instead of placing them in your cart!
If you are shopping online while you are tried, try replacing online shopping with listening to a meditation app, podcast, or audiobook! (Maybe one on personal finance)
3. A word about building budgets.
Many people mistakenly assume budgets must be super restrictive and take something away to be effective. However, budgets do not have to be so strict that you aren’t able to follow them. This only sets up for failure from the start and you will be less likely to try again if you have a bad first experience.
Be sure you are building in flexibility. Flexibility will be your best friend. Inevitably, there will be a day where you experience an unexpected expense or emergency. This may require you to make changes to your savings/ spending plan and you will need this flexibility then.
4. Great time to discuss setting up an emergency fund.
An emergency fund is an account where you will keep 6-12 months living expenses in cash. This account should ONLY be used when you have emergencies/ unexpected expenses so that you don’t throw your budget off track.
This type of savings is not glamorous. But, I can't tell you how thankful you will be once you need it.
5. Many people experience budgeting trouble if their paychecks fluctuate….
Budgeting can be very hard, even for individuals with predictable paychecks. However, many of us have income that can fluctuate wildly. My suggestion is to set your budget for your lowest paycheck, if possible. As you have any extra income or when you experience the times where your paycheck is higher you can use it to save for future expenses, invest, emergency savings account or pay down debt.
If you can set your budget off your lowest paycheck, then you will need to determine your monthly expenses and make sure you set aside enough to cover these expenses from larger checks. This means you will need to be more vigilant in your budgeting.
Simple and basic methods for budgeting work the best. Don’t get frustrated with your-self and give up. Learning to budget efficiently takes time and practice. Sticking with it and learning from your mistake will greatly benefit you in the long run.
This information is general in nature and may be subject to change. Financial professionals and other representatives are not authorized to give legal, tax or accounting advice. Applicable laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Any tax statements in this material are not intended to suggest the avoidance of U.S. federal, state or local tax penalties. For advice concerning your individual circumstances, consult a professional attorney, tax advisor or accountant.
Securities offered through NMS Capital Advisors, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory products and services offered through Castle Wealth Advisors, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. NMS Capital Advisors, LLC and Castle Wealth Advisors, LLC are unaffiliated entities.