You’re driving home from work, rocking out to your favorite band, (or if you’re like me, enjoying the sweet silence of being alone for 40 minutes out of your busy day) when you realize that you’re coming up on the exit with a Starbucks, Wendy’s, Chipotle (insert your weakness here). There are 6 miles between you and the exit and suddenly you find yourself in a mini battle between your budget policing angel and budget busting devil. Thoughts are going through your head, arguments for both sides pouring in:
“You don’t need that $5 iced latte. If you bought a $5 coffee everyday for a week you’d spend $35!! Just think what you could pay down with that extra cash. Not to mention, you really don’t need the extra calories….”
“Budget Smudget! Who cares how much you spend on coffee, it’s your treat to yourself. If you can’t have a coffee every now and then, what can you have? You’ve worked hard today and please, what are calories anyway? You just go right ahead and pull up to that drive thru window. Order an Iced Venti Caramel Latte for you and one for me too!”
This scene is pretty comical and even a bit dramatic but the reality is that when you are trying to stick to a budget, these small decisions really can affect your big picture goals. We want you to be successful when it comes to sticking to your budget but we realize that you also need to enjoy some spending freedom along the way. In order to help you in the process, we have compiled some tips to make budgeting a little easier. You might want to get a pen and jot these down so next time your little budget busting friend chimes in to the conversation, you have some tools to shut him up. Good luck!
- Keep Track
This may seem like a no brainer but if you don’t keep track of your money, you won’t know where it’s going. If you don’t know where your money is going, you won’t know where you need to cut back and where you can afford a little slack. Those $5 lattes don’t seem so bad at the time but if you indulge yourself in this little treat multiple times throughout the month, well then I’m sorry to say that your budget angel might have had a good point. Try tracking your spending for 2-3 months. Look for patterns in spending that could indicate a spending “problem area”. Use our free tool, Kasasa 360, to help you keep track of all your accounts in one easy-to-read platform.
- Decide what is important to you
Not everyone has the same goals and priorities in life. What’s important is that you establish what yours are and then set a budget that matches them. If you love to golf over the summer months and just don’t see yourself giving it up, then maybe you can afford to reduce your budget for eating out during that time period. There are always ways to manipulate your budget so that you don’t feel as if you’re missing out on all the good stuff. Be creative!
- Decide to get out of debt
I know, I know, I just said that everyone should decide on their own goals but honestly, EVERYONE needs to make getting out of debt a priority. There are different types of debt, credit card debt, student loans, car loans, etc. but all debt equals less money in your bank account. When you pay that credit card bill every month, and let’s hope you are paying it every month, just think of what that extra money could of gone towards (not to mention the interest you’re paying). The sooner you get out of debt, the freer you will become financially. Make it a priority.
- Try sharing
There are just some things in life that you don’t want to share, like a toothbrush for instance. Then there are things that have the possibility of being even better when shared, like a vacation. Some of life’s luxuries are able to maintain their luxury status even when you share them. If you haven’t taken a vacation in 5 years because you just can’t afford it but you are stressed beyond belief at work and really need to get away, why not consider inviting some friends or family members to go with you? You can split the costs of almost everything; gas, if you’re driving, accommodations, even food! Don’t be afraid to ask other people to go in on things with you. Chances are they may want the same things you do.
- Give yourself time
There really is a time for everything and let’s face it, some of our purchase decisions can tend to be based more on emotion rather than logic. That handbag that was “on sale” for $350 or that recently released flat screen TV with “new and improved” features, if you really think about it, did you NEED those things? If you had gone home and taken the time to think about the purchase, mull it over in your mind for a while, would you still of bought it? When all else fails and you feel yourself getting all amped up on buyer endorphins, try taking a step back and take the time to think through the decision. This route will leave you feeling better, even if you do decide to make the purchase at a later date; chances are you won’t be suffering from buyer’s remorse afterwards because you took your time.
What are your thoughts? We would love to hear how you keep to your budget. Feel free to share any tips or tools that you use, in the comment section below.
Author: Abby Gruber
Abby is the Marketing Strategist and Copywriter for Richwood Marketing. She enjoys helping businesses discover and promote what makes them unique as well as helping to capture those ideas in writing. Abby is responsible for maintaining Richwood Bank’s blog and is always open to hearing your ideas and suggestions. If you have a certain topic you would like covered, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.