You might want to keep some tissues nearby. If you want to budget - p r o p e r l y - it may require some tough choices: eep!
Prepare to be read on your saving habits...
Let’s be honest; everyone would like more spare cash. It’s not the money that matters, but the experiences and freedom that comes from having it. Generally; the rules for budgeting are pretty much unchanged from when you enter into adulthood gulp; the circumstances may vary widely but the basics stay the same.
Let’s dive in! Ps - I’m into minimalism so you know this advice is legit and powered by the zen enlightenment of 10 Dalai Lamas.
1. Record everything
This one is the winner to be honest. It’s difficult to budget without knowing how much you spent last month, or last week. It’s the thing that works really well for me; record everything you spend money on you’ll easily figure out where you’re going right or wrong, build up an accurate figure of your spending and see how you can make savings.
Budgeting apps are easy tools for this. Toshl is cool, the appropriately named Spending Tracker works well. Search on your app store and pick one that you think looks nice. They all do the same thing and you’ll ideally use it daily so it should be pretty.
Record err’thang (again). If you love coffee and spend £3 twice a week, that could be £300 a year you don’t haven’t recorded. (It’s perfectly fine to spend that much on coffee, or more, but it’s better to know about it). #knowledgeispower
Do it each time you spend. Remember that small things add up over time.
2. Actually set a budget
Really, do it. So this one is important, and goes along with recording everything. Whilst you can worry about setting up 15 budgets for different spending categories; don’t. You will lose interest; start simple with a single budget for total monthly spend.
By tracking what you spend; you can set yourself a budget that is realistic; be sure to add any recurring regular payments (calculate bills as monthly if possible) and work towards your budget. Each month you can reduce your budget slightly as you get used to planning your spending.
Life ebbs and flows, so if you’re tracking it every month you'll begin to see how well you’re doing. You can’t always beat your budget every month, but over time you’ll see if you’re doing good or need to rethink your spending.
Keep saving simple. Don’t give up if you have an expensive month; sometimes that’s unavoidable!
3. Re-frame how you think about money
When I first countered this idea, it was a major realisation for me. 2016...a year about realising things.
When you spend money, what you’re actually spending are the hours of your life you gave up to earn that money. The more you spend, the more you’ll need to work to keep up. Over a lifetime it’s quite a sobering thought; do you want to be free or be at work?
When you think about spending money in terms of spending time, it helps put purchases in perspective. You want to fill your life with things you love; not things you purchased because they were convenient. You can earn more money, but you can’t earn time. (I did say this would be harsh - sorry hun!).
Spending money is spending time you can’t get back; so make it count.
4. Have goals - be honest
Super simple, but if you’re budgeting and trying to save, keep in your mind what that reasons are. If you want to take more holidays, hold on to that. If you’re saving so you have money for future adventures - you’ll thank yourself later if you save in advance.
Tough love alert. Be honest; don’t tell yourself that you want to save money if you won’t track your spending or make any changes to how you spend. If you won’t do that then you clearly haven’t decided that you want to save. So talk yourself into it first ;)
Use long term goals to keep motivation. If you’re always spending you’ll limit yourself later.
5. Spend less often - buy better
Easy advice but not always easy to follow. Think about the things that you really love. A trusty laptop that’s kept you entertained through flu and rainy days, or a fierce dress that always gets you compliments. Not everything is that special; so try and be honest about the things you really need. Take a moment to mourn all those unplayed steam games, or old outfits that never got worn.
Ask yourself some questions:
- Do I already have something like this?
- Do I love it and will it add value to my life?
- Am I buying it out of boredom?
- Could I save money now and buy something better quality later?
Be honest about why you’re buying things.
6. Things vs experiences
Everyone who is saving is ultimately savings for something bigger than the day to day. There’s a lot to be said about spending on experiences instead of things - it can add a lot of joy and amazing experiences to your life in a way that all the shoes stacked to the moon and back will not.
When you’re saving money; ultimately you’re saving it to spend on something really meaningful.
Key takeaway: Budgeting is rising above the day-to-day temptations and tiny regrets.
Okay that wasn’t so bad? I think we all got through it.
Remember; budgeting is saving for meaningful experiences; a stress-free life where day-to-day purchases don’t delay your dream holiday, dream home or that next adventure.
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