Money matters – 5 tips for preparing a successful budget
Short of asking your boss for a raise, the easiest way to boost your savings account is to look at what you’ve already got and learn how to make it last. Budgeting and finance can sound like scary topics, but we all know the satisfaction of ending the month with a little more money left over. We’ve put together an easy, realistic list full of tips you can take onboard to enjoy that buzz every month without having to be too strict on yourself:
It can be easy to believe that your only safety net in times of financial hardship is a credit card. While credit cards may have the allure of ‘free money’ written all over them, the repayment terms and high-interest rates are likely to bite you hard if you’re not extremely careful. Consider quick cash loans from community or charitable organisations instead. With low-interest rates designed to help you get out of tight spots, ethical, fair lenders can ease the pressure between paychecks without any of the extra hassle.
Embrace the Apps
When you think of the word “budget”, is the vision in your head one of spreadsheets, calculators and a lot of mental anguish as you struggle to work it all out by yourself? That’s so 10 years ago. Take a look at the app store and you’ll see just how many options are out there, every one of them created with the express purpose of helping you put more money in your pocket. What are you waiting for?
Would You Like A Receipt?
It’s a phrase you likely hear on a daily basis, and have probably become all too accustomed to declining. We know receipts are your best friend when it comes to claiming on refunds or tax deductions, but they can also be your vigil guard while you’re battling a strict budget. Keep the little scraps of paper and look back over them on a weekly or monthly basis. When you lay everything itemized in front of you, you can see if your spendings are adding up in a positive or negative light. This will help you identify and rectify your problem expenditure areas.
Keep To Your Cash
Another trick is to revert back to the tried and true old faithful: cash. Since you’ve already dropped your credit card, the next step is to do the same for your savings or debit cards. Budget ahead to know how much spending money you have for a certain period, and withdraw it ahead of time in cash. Doing this not only keeps you away from overdrawn credit cards and surcharge fees but also allows you to see how much you have left with each transaction. Blowing a significant amount in one go is easy with the tap of a card. However, it’s a far more confronting proposition when you’re physically handing over the banknotes that go with it.
As a final point, it’s important to allow yourself to adjust if the budget you’ve mapped out isn’t working. If you’re routinely running out of money before the payday and dipping into your savings overflow, allow yourself to restructure however much is going into each pile at the start of each budget period. Conversely, if you find yourself with more left over than you thought, do Future You a favor and send the excess over to your savings account.
By following these steps and sticking to your goals, you’ll end up thanking yourself in the long run. Happy savings!