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November 13, 2015 - Posted by Assignment Review

I Love to Budget, Said No Person Ever. Here’s 10 Easy Tips for Budget Haters

You know the type. Those people who brag about how they have this perfect budget and how they never veer from it, and how they are just so self-disciplined with their spread sheets. Then there is the other extreme – those people who are always asking you for a “bridge” loan til payday. You probably fall somewhere in the middle. You make enough to pay your bills and have some luxuries, but you know you could do better if you had those spreadsheets but you really don’t want to. For you, these 10 easy tips have been designed. Some may fit, some may not – you get to pick.

Try the Envelope System

Here is a simple but effective way to put yourself on a budget without the spreadsheets. It was really popular years ago when people didn’t have checking accounts (there was this big fear of putting money in banks after the big crash of 1929). People cashed their paychecks and did the following:

  1. They had envelopes for all of their expenses – rent, utilities, groceries, entertainment, etc.
  2. Now, you may not want envelopes for everything, because you probably pay most of your bills online, and if your bank fails, your money is guaranteed.
  3. Do make envelopes for things like groceries, entertainment, clothing, etc.
  4. Each payday, put a set amount in each envelope. Use the cash only for the label on the envelope. When an envelope is empty, that’s it. If you spend all of your entertainment money in one weekend, its TV and cooking until payday.
  5. You’ll find that your checking account gets healthier each month if you do this.

10% Goes to Retirement

This is the easiest budget tip of all. That 10%? Put it in a 401K at work or, if you are self-employed into a Roth IRA. If you save through work, it will be taken out of your check and you’ll never see it. If it’s a personal IRA, have automatic deduction from your checking account. Never rely on your self-control to make a 10% payment out of each paycheck. Better not to have any part in this process.

Have Different Bank Accounts

Banks are so competitive now – you can get as many accounts as you want without monthly fees. So here’s some options for accounts.

A checking account just for bills

A checking account for household expenses

A savings account for some big goal – college for the kids, down payment on a house, a new car

A savings account for the big fun items, like vacations.

Divide up your paycheck into these accounts every month. And if you bank online, it’s so easy to do. The paycheck comes into one account and you do the online transfers. Or, have your bank do it for you. Then you can’t fudge.

The Emergency Fund is a Requirement

This can be a separate savings account too. Here’s the deal. You don’t plan on losing your job or getting laid off. But it happens. Companies get bought out and go bankrupt. You need to accumulate 6 months of living expenses in this fund. Put as much as you can each month into that account. And once you have your 6 months, let it be.

Pay Off the Credit Cards

You know you should. The interest rates are horrible, and the minimum payments mean you’ll be paying on them forever, even if you don’t charge any more. If your debt is substantial, consider reducing the amount going into your 401K just temporarily, to 5%. Take the other 5% and have it added to your minimum payment on the card with the smallest balance. When that is paid off, move all of that payment to the next one, and so forth. You’ll be amazed at how much faster you can get those puppies paid off. In the end, keep only one card for emergencies, and it stays home in the drawer.

Use that Credit Card

What? Hear me out. If you do not have credit card balances, and you have really good self-control, you can actually track your expenses for one month by using your card. For one month, use the credit card for everything you purchase. When the bill comes in, you can sit down with it and see exactly where your money is going and how much you really spend on groceries, eating out, gas, etc. You only have to do this for one month, but you may get some insight as to where you could or should cut down. Of course, when the bill comes in, you will pay it off in full.

Live Below Your Means

When you get a raise or a promotion, you want to celebrate. Go out and do that! But then, have that additional income put it in those savings accounts you have set up, maybe for college, and keep the same lifestyle you have always had.

Shoot for Short-Term Victories

You want a new couch; you really want a new couch. Instead of blowing your budget in one month or putting it on a credit card, divide the cost into 5 payments and put that payment aside for the next 5 months. Voila! You have a new couch painlessly.

Be Realistic

There’s a reason why crash diets don’t work. People decide go from 2400 calories a day to 1200. They are eating kale, and carrots, and baked fish. They can do this for the first week or so, until they can’t anymore. Then it’s over. It’s the same thing with a budget. You can’t starve yourself by cutting out all entertainment – you’ll never make it.

Reward Yourself

When those accounts are all safe and secure; when your living expenses checking account if good and healthy; when you are back to the 10% payment to your 401K, it’s time for the rewards. Eat out once a week; buy that new pair of shoes of that power tool you’ve been wanting. You have everything under control, and there are no spreadsheets!

Reward Yourself

I don’t know about you guys, but I love rewarding myself. A reward can be something as simple as eating out every Friday evening or treating yourself to a vacation once a year. You should enjoy the fruits of your labor and pat yourself on the back for setting goals and reaching them. That doesn’t sound too painful, does it?

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