Tired of having more month than money? Here are 3 easy budgeting ideas.
Nobody likes those end-of-the-month antics. Money gets tight and you find yourself playing the game. Counting the days to payday. Timing those bill payments to get them in under the wire and not overdrawing your account. And hoping no unexpected costs pop up.
It doesn’t take too long before it all gets really old. It’s time to take back control and give yourself a little end-of-the-month sanity. Here are a few ideas to help make that happen.
The dreaded “B” word doesn’t have to be so dreaded
Some of us just cringe when we hear the word ‘budget’. It feels like that thing that tells us what we can’t have and can’t do. What gets overlooked is that budgeting can be a great anxiety reducer, helping us eliminate those nasty end-of-the-month panic attacks.
Budgeting is all about knowing what you have coming in and going out. That helps you understand what you can have and can do.
Better yet, you can find a method of budgeting that works for you.
- 50/30/20 rule - look at what you have coming in (paychecks) and then divide it among three areas. 50% for essentials like mortgage or rent, groceries, utility bills, etc. 30% for everyday stuff like cell phone, Netflix, eating out, etc. 20% for savings including an emergency-proof fund, retirement, and other saving goals. You can look at a month’s worth of your spending to see how to break it out - and where you may need to do a little give and take to hit the 50/30/20 allocation.
- 80/20 rule - this simplifies it even more. Separate where your money goes into two categories. 80% goes to monthly spending. 20% goes to monthly savings.
Hack your brain
We can be our own worst enemy. We have every intention of staying on track but then we make that purchase that we’re soon regretting. It happens to all of us. After all, it’s no fun telling ourselves we can’t have something that we think we want. So don’t. Instead of telling yourself no, just delay the decision. Give yourself two or three days before you make that purchase. Many times, the extra days help us make better decisions. We may decide it’s not worth risking the end-of-month anxiety that purchase could cause.
Here’s another hack. Don’t make buying decisions late in the day. We’re all susceptible to decision fatigue. In other words, our ability to make wise decisions deteriorates the more decisions we have to make. Even small, everyday decisions. When you think about all the decisions we have to make in a day, you can see why our decision making ability may be compromised as we get to the evening. If you have a buying decision to make, wait until morning when you’re fresh.
Make spending a competitive sport
Turning spending into a game can help make sticking to the budget more fun. If you have someone you live with, challenge each other to a “No-Spend Day” once a week to see if you can make it through the day without spending anything. On a Friday or Saturday night, set a spending goal for yourself. Then go withdraw that amount of money and only pay cash that night. This makes us much more aware of what we’re spending and makes us likely to spend less (we humans have a harder time handing over cash than we do a debit or credit card.)
On the saving side, see what you can negotiate. Pick one of your expenses and see if you can reduce it without making life unpleasant. You may be surprised by the deals that companies are willing to cut. Start with your cell phone plan. See what you can negotiate. Do the same if you have cable. See if you can bundle your insurance to save money. Maybe even get rid of subscriptions or memberships you really don’t use anymore. Look at all your expenses and get creative.
Absolutely reward yourself
It’s easy to get tired of your budget. Most of us would rather just do whatever we want to do when we want to do it. Unfortunately, that’s how we end up feeling that end-of-the-month anxiety. Rather than ignore this challenge, let’s build in something that motivates us to stick to the budget.
Put aside $50 (or whatever amount works for you) at the beginning of the month. If you stay on budget that month, take that $50 and go spend it on whatever you want. No restrictions. No judging.
The reward doesn’t have to be money. You can give yourself the reward of time for sticking to the budget. Give yourself an afternoon or a full day to do whatever you want without guilt. (Check out our 8 Free Things To Do In KC guide.) It’s time you earned for doing a good job.