Adopting healthy money habits isn’t as simple as just creating a budget. Sure, a budget can help you plan better. But even the most detailed budget can’t keep people from overspending. That’s because it takes discipline. You have to decide to stick to your budget even if there’s a sale at your favorite store or a new must-have gadget.
In this article, you’ll learn some budgeting hacks to keep you accountable. From keeping your accounts separate to creating a lenient budget, here are five easy things you can do to boost your bank account.
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Create a Budget
The first part of sticking with a budget is to create a realistic one. Easier said than done, right? While creating a budget has its challenges, the process doesn’t have to be impossible, especially if you integrate technology.
In today’s world, you have more options than ever for helping you stay on budget. For example, you could download a budgeting app like Mint or Personal Capital.
These apps are known for being intuitive and easy to comprehend. After linking your credit or debit card, the app reviews your income and expenses to create a customized budget.
If you don’t want to use an app but want some assistance, consider opening a bank account through an institution with budgeting tools.
For example, some banks will send you balance notifications so you always know what’s in your account. Some banks even give users the option to round up their expenses to the next dollar. The difference is then automatically put into a savings account without you having to think too much about it.
Separate Your Accounts
Many financial experts recommend separating your bank accounts to help you stay on budget. Tiffany Aliche, a personal finance expert and author, recommends a four-bucket system: checking, checking, savings, and savings.
Your first checking account should be for your bills (rent, insurance, etc.). Your second checking account should be for your wants (new clothes, entertainment, etc.). Make your first savings account your emergency fund. Then use your second one for your long-term savings goals.
By splitting up your expenses, you know exactly how much money you have and where you should spend it. By following this method, you’ll be less likely to spend money frivolously.
Having four accounts open might seem difficult to manage. But it doesn’t have to be. If you sign up for direct deposit, set it up so your paycheck is split between the four automatically. You could also immediately split it up yourself once your paycheck hits.
Be Careful in Grocery Stores
How many times have you left a grocery store spending more than you bargained for? We’ve all been there. That’s because it’s all too easy to go over budget when you walk into a store without a plan. To keep this from happening, make a list of what you need before even leaving your house.
First, review your grocery budget. You might even want to write down the max you can spend at the top to ensure you don’t overspend.
Then go through your kitchen and write down what you need. The keyword here is “need.” While you might want to try macadamia milk because your friend raved about it, don’t buy it if you already have almond milk. Finish what’s in your fridge first. Once you have your list ready and your budget in mind, go shopping.
Consider Online Food Shopping
Something else you should consider is shopping online for your groceries to save money. This is a good tip if you’re someone who’s easily influenced by browsing a physical store.
By shopping online, you avoid the temptation that comes with walking through the aisles. Instead, once you’re on the store’s website, type what’s on your list into the search bar and put it in your cart. You can even pay for your groceries online. Then once your order is ready, you simply go to the store and pick up your groceries.
There is an option to have your groceries delivered to your door thanks to companies like Instacart, Ubereats, etc. While you’ll most likely pay a delivery fee, the convenience can be worth it. And you’ll avoid making impulse buys at the cash register.
Revisit Your Budget
There’s another important part about budgeting that often gets overlooked. And that’s constantly reviewing your budget. The more you engage with your budget, the easier it is to spot ways to save more and spend more wisely.
Chances are, your needs and wants will fluctuate throughout the years (maybe even months). For example, you might get a raise and want to allocate more money into your savings. You might get married and need more financial lenience to afford your wedding. Life happens, and you shouldn’t expect your budget to always stay the same.
Spend some time going over your budget at least once a month. Find what’s working and identify what’s not, and then make those changes. Even if you haven’t had any major life changes, you might find your budget is too restrictive or not restrictive enough. Those are both good reasons to make a change.
While budgets should help you better save and manage your money, they shouldn’t keep you from enjoying yourself. Don’t forget that.
Chances are, you’ve created a budget for yourself at some point in your life. Did it work? Maybe for a while, but then you didn’t stick with it. Don’t let that experience keep you from trying it again. After all, following a budget is one of the best ways to improve your financial well-being.
Budgets hold you accountable, help you define your goals, and can set you up for success. Then why are budgets so hard to follow, you ask? Probably because you aren’t creating a realistic budget and adopting healthy money habits. Luckily, the tips above will help you do just that.