Budgeting sounds about as exciting as shovelling the driveway in ~ 25-degree weather after a 10inch snowfall – maybe even worse. Understanding this though & starting with simple-to-implement budgeting tricks will work wonders. If anything can be said about it, it’s that the more you’re able to see the positive effects, the more likely you are to keep the good times rolling.
Although daunting to start, establishing proper budgeting is incredibly simple, so simple that I’ve narrowed it down to 5-key hacks for success. Try putting all of them into action at once, or slowly ease them in over time, all that matters is that you’re making an effort to better your books.
Hack 1: Keep a Spend-Log
Long gone are the days when balanced books were required for managing your accounts, and thankfully so. However, keeping on top of where each dollar goes hasn’t lost its importance. Keep a spend-log to track all of your money movement, whether it be your daily coffee’s, treats, commute, bar tabs, etc. This will allow you to get a full view of where your money is being spent, and it will offer you the chance to categorize your spending and see where money is being wasted (i.e. the $50 per week – $2600 per year – spent on Starbucks).
Hack 2: Pack a Lunch/Bring a Coffee
Although your mom refuses to spend $3 per lunchable at Loblaws on her weekly grocery runs, you have no excuse for spending anywhere between $5-$20 a day on lunches/snacks/coffees. Although marginally inconvenient, packing a lunch (whether it be a sandwich, salad, etc.) will allow you to eat healthier and save a fortune. Fill your bag with granola bars and pudding, alongside your salami sandwich and homemade coffee, to keep your hunger-spending in check. The decision to buy food (or to NOT buy food) will become a lot easier when you know that you have a healthy, free alternative available to you.
Hack 3: Sleep on It
There is something to be said about making a decision after you’ve had some time to weigh out the alternatives. Before making any purchase over $100 (can be higher or lower depending on your current financial position) take some time to think about whether you REALLY need the item. This will be a huge help in preventing impulsive purchases. More often than not, you’ll come to your senses after a few hours/days and decide that a $100 in your pocket is better than that jacket you won’t wear in 3-months.
Hack 4: Cut Unnecessary Expenses
There isn’t any value in spending $100 a month on a phone bill or $60 a month on a gym pass you never use – so don’t. Find where your monthly expenses are getting out of line and adjust them. Skimming money off the top of unnecessary expenses can quickly add up to a few hundred dollars of savings per month (more money for the lunches you’ll never end up buying).
Hack 5: Set Money Aside via Planning
As obvious as it seems, many forget to plan ahead and prepare their finances for the upcoming weeks & months. Taking a look at the calendar and seeing where your money will be spent – whether it be weddings, birthdays, or vacations – will allow you to plan accordingly. If you know that you have a budget of $500 for the next few weeks and $450 of it is to be allocated to already planned events, spending $150 this weekend at the club/wherever else you choose to flaunt doesn’t quite add up. Set aside the funds that you will be needing in the coming weeks and work wisely with the rest.
Proper budgeting isn’t meant to excite you, plain and simple. I promise that you’ll have a smile on your face though when these hacks work as a spark to your bank account balances over the coming weeks and months.