Resolutions are hard but your budget doesn’t have to be with these five easy ways to stay on budget this year and give two free budget trackers. I’ll show you five simple, easy, and practical tasks that you can do to stay on budget for the New Year. If you’re anything like my hubby or me, you’ll learn that tackling a budget and regaining financial control is not only possible, but easier than you thought once you put these tasks into practice.
We all struggle with our goals during the “New Year, New Me” part of the year. Come mid-January, we find our goals have slipped and we may have eaten a little more junk food, missed a few days of exercise, and spent a little more than we intended. Businesses know this which is why we find ourselves surrounded by the best deals to tempt us away from our goals.
“Join now for just 1$! Oh, but you have to sign a X-long contract and pay our fees.” “Bucket of fried chicken, now only $10!” *I’ve never seen that particular deal, but that would have been amazing before I learned about my body’s food intolerance.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial adviser or any similar occupation. I am a person who has struggled financially, purchased many books and researched to discover personal finance tricks and tips that have helped me and may help you.
Five Easy Tasks to Keep You on Budget
1. Discover your Budget Tracker
Some people prefer a paper-based system. Others prefer digital. Whatever your preference, find one that works for you consistently and that you can follow. I have personally tried Mint, LearnVest, Quicken and Microsoft Excel. I have also tried paper-based budget sheets which are helpful but just not for me.
I’ve found Microsoft Excel is the best system for me after many iterations. I even sent it to my mother in-law because it works so well and Quicken wasn’t working for her.
If you’d like to use this method. Here is my latest budget spreadsheet.
You can enter in what was spent that week or just keep receipts in an envelope so you are ready to review at the end of the week.
2. Calculate Your Income and Outflow
Want to know how to keep track of your money inflow and outflow?
I use this spreadsheet for calculating our income and money outflow and it has been so wonderful. You’ll know how much you bring in and what needs to go out. You can also calculate the remainder at the end of each month. I leave all the fonts black until I’ve received the money or the bill is paid. Once received or paid, I change the font to green. Any variable items I change to red.
For Example, I pay a different amount on one credit card every month because the money available varies.
This tracker will show you the overall big picture of your finances so you can set specific budgets for each category. You can also calculate where you need to scale back and spend less.
3. Cash-Based System
Switch to a cash-based system. I’ve found this works for most people. There’s something about having the exact amount of money you can spend in hand that keeps you aware. I know, when my husband has a cash allowance for lunch, it’s easy to stay on budget and he even has extra each week that he saves. I tend to never spend cash when I have it because it is tangible to me and I don’t want to lose it. Swiping a credit card just doesn’t have the same impact for me until I look at the bill weeks later.
Try out the cash-based system for two-weeks and review your budget afterwards. If you compare it to previous weeks, you should see a significant difference. This works really well for grocery budgets since you’ll find those little trips a few times a week can add up.
4. Earn Money While You Sleep
It’s cliché I know. Haha. It’s true though. There are many ways to earn extra money to help pay off debts and stay on budget. I have used UpWork to earn extra income with quick editing jobs for author’s and it’s a great place for easy tasks to earn money.
When you do have to spend money, be smart about it.
Utilize your online shopping by using eBates. We have earned over $600 with eBates. I didn’t understand it at first and thought it was a scam but it really works. You spend money online, after installing a browser extension, and you activate the eBates cash-back and start earning. We even used eBates on our wedding and honeymoon via Travelocity and Expedia. Did that sound like a marketing scheme? It’s not. I promise.
Another option I’ve used is Ibotta, a cash-back system for your grocery receipts. Once you earn enough, Ibotta will send you a check. You can earn money on generic as well as specific brands, even some alcohol!
Finally, always find the best deal using tools such as Honey and Invisible Hand. Each has a browser extension so you can easily find the best price and coupons before you purchase something. Invisible hand will find you better prices online to ensure you are getting the best price. Honey can do the same but also searches the internet for coupons to apply to your purchase. They also have some kind of rewards system that I have yet to understand. However, I’m happy enough with the coupons that it is just a bonus.
5. Review Your Budget Every Week
Reviewing your budget every week is the most important step of the entire process. It can be hard and uncomfortable but it is necessary. Accountability, will help you learn the discipline it takes to crush your financial goals.
If you have a significant other, meet with them once a week, print out your spending (if you used credit cards), or gather your receipts, and review. You can really review with anyone you trust, even if that person doesn’t have a vested interest in your financial situation. It’s easier to have another person involved but you are welcome to review it on your own. I would suggest scheduling a “date” with yourself to review so you never miss it. You can also join free accountability groups on Facebook and online. There are so many nice people online that are willing to help.
Total how much was spent versus what was budgeted and see how you did. The important take-away from this is to keep you honest and to remind yourself and your significant other to analyze without judgment. I used to sweat when it was time to review the budget because I knew I was the one spending money frivolously now. My husband was very kind about it and didn’t pass any judgement but asked questions. My own guilt was punishment enough to remind me why I needed to stay on budget.
I get it, we live in a time of instant gratification. This is why reviewing your budget every week eliminates this issue and trains your brain to think differently than what society tells you. Eventually, you can review once a month when you have consistent control of your finances. However, in the beginning, it’s best to review at least every week.
There you have it. Five easy ways to crush your budget this year. Discover your budget tracker, calculate your income and outflow, use cash, side-hustle, and review. These five simple tasks will launch you into budgeting stardom and you’ll look back in a year and see how far you’ve come. If you ever need a reminder, come back to this post for a refresher. If you need a kick in the butt or have more questions, I’m here at Kiana@KianaBeautyWorld.com.
Are there any methods or tasks that have helped you in the past? I want to know!