Let's talk about the 'B' word...
Okay, maybe that was an inappropriate way to catch your attention. But in reality, the word 'budget' seems to scare most of us away and most of us wouldn't even open an article with the word budget in it.
If you're already thinking about closing this article, read just one more line before you decide. The majority of millionaires set a budget. If they do it, why shouldn't you?
Are you willing to find extra money in your budget? What will you do with your additional cash flow? Set it aside for upgrades? A vacation?
This isn't going to be an article that drags on about reducing your expenses or buckling down and writing out your purchases every week, but rather how to create a simple budget and benefit from it.
1. Organize your money
I have tried using an excel sheet and calculator to keep my budget and, while it works, there are easier ways to organize your cash flow – like an app or website.
My favorite budgeting app is You Need a Budget (YNAB). They automatically import your expenses and have tools geared to paying off debt. The average user saves $6,000 per year. Their platform makes budgeting fun – bonus points if you do it with a partner (battle of the budget!).
2. Don't let budgeting take over your life
You don't need to be obsessed with updating your budget to be successful. Set an event in your calendar to update your budget weekly, biweekly or even monthly.
While we're talking about time - make sure you know when your monthly expenses need to be paid and when your cash comes in.
3. Don't worry about categories
Do you really want to make things simple? Stop categorizing by groceries, utilities, clothes, etc. Just break it up by 'needs' and 'wants'.
Try to keep your 'needs' under 50% and 'wants' under 25%. This leaves 25% for saving or paying down high-interest debt. If this sounds unreasonable, just increase the percents to give yourself more flexibility.
4. It's okay to miss the target
Your first month or two might not be a thrilling experience. If you're like me, you'll finally find out where all your income is going. I call these our 'blackhole expenses' – parts of our life where we are spending way more than we think (dinners, clothes, coffee, gifts, etc.).
Over time we can reign in these expenses to better manage our cash flow. Be generous with yourself in the first couple months, start by just making yourself aware of your costs and then move towards reducing the unnecessary ones.
What are you saving for?