Most ways to budget your money can make you feel deprived, stressed, and might not be the best for you, so I’ve got a few tips for you that might actually work and make things easier. If budgeting is something you dread, which is completely normal, then I understand! Yet, there are some helpful ways to budget your money that don’t leave you broke, overly exhausted, or require a lot of skills to start using.
1. Subscribe to a Free Service
One of the most helpful ways to budget your money that I have found is subscribing to a free service that helps you see where you money is going, and can help you direct it properly to pay the right bills. I like Mint.com for this, and recommend it to anyone. Mint also has an app, so you can see your scheduled bills, etc. all on your smarphone. Mint.com allows you to allocate your money to different bills, can set up autopay, and shows you a graph of how much of what you’re making is actually being used to pay off debt.
2. Be Loan Smart
Here’s a tip for all you ladies out there who have a student loan like I do. Call your loan provider and ask them what all your options are. If you have a tight budget, you might be able to get your loan payment either reduced, eliminated for a short time until your income picks up, consolidated, or maybe you can get some type of assistance if you have a low income. This will free up some of your monthly income so you will have more money overall each month.
3. Don’t Overpay Every Month
One tip that I advise most women to adhere to is not to pay more on all your credit cards or loans every month. Many times, we’re told to pay more than the minimum balance, and this is a great thing to do, but don’t do it to all your credit cards or loans every single month. It’s better to pay more on one single card or loan, so you can get it paid off faster, and then start on the next one. This will get one of your bills out of the way faster and is much more efficient for paying off debt and allocating your money more usefully.
4. Don’t Deprive Yourself
Most people making a budget don’t allow for small expense allocations to reward themselves each week. This can backfire in the long run, because you get tired of working and not enjoying any of your hard earned work. What I do instead, is to allocate around $30-$40 each week for me to spend on myself, and the rest goes to my bills (outside of groceries and other necessities). This way, I never feel deprived and I’m less anxious about money and bills because I’m getting to see something of what I bring home, even if it is just a small amount.
5. Coupon What You Can
Every week, I check online for coupons, but only for ones I’ll actually use. I don’t advise just buying things because you have a coupon for them. Instead, buy items that you already purchase, and see if you can find coupons for those. This prevents you from buying things you don’t need, and many times, coupons for certain items are for higher priced brands than the store brands anyway. This means you’re not really saving money. I recommend buying generic brands when you can. If nothing else, read the ingredient list, even on cleaning products and bath and beauty products. If the generic brand is the same in terms of ingredients, try it! You might be surprised just how great it works. Also, check on actual store websites for coupons, along with coupon websites such as coupons.com, couponmom.com, and southernsaver.com. All are great coupon sources that I recommend checking out each week for the best overall savings.
6. Use Your Phone’s Calendar
If you have a smartphone, I recommend setting up reminders through your calendar of when your bills are due. I’m sure most of you already do this, but I still wanted to make sure it was noted because this one tip can save you time, stress, and keep you from paying late payments. Set up reminders at the beginning of the week or even the month, of what items are due when. Then, depending on how often you get paid, go ahead and schedule payments into your calendar. If you can, link this calendar to your PC as well. If you subscribe to Mint.com or another free financial bill service, then all of this should already be taken care of for you.
7. Set up Online Bill Pay
I highly recommend setting up online bill pay either through your bank’s website, or through a service like Mint.com if you can. This is a great way to take the stress off of having to remember to pay the items yourself, but don’t forget to make a note of what is coming out when! If you don’t have reminders for yourself set up of what is coming out of your bank accounts, you run the risk of bouncing checks and getting overdraft fees. You could also suffer late payments if they money isn’t in your account to pay the bill because you forgot a payment was coming out and spent the money.
What I do each month is sit down with my calendar, look what bills are due, and then schedule payments depending on when I get paid each month, through my online bill pay. I pay more towards one or two bills and make regular payments on the rest, leaving myself enough money for groceries, and a small reward allocation as stated above. This makes things easier on me, and I see results faster this way. Budgeting doesn’t have to be a headache when you make things simple and smart. What’s your best budgeting tip?