Everyone knows that budgeting is a good idea. Budgeting gives you full control over the money you earn and spend; it gives you freedom to ensure that you always know you’re going to have enough set aside for bills.
Yet for some reason… budgeting just isn’t that popular.
The reason for this? Well, there’s a few, but perhaps the most common is that budgeting is just outright boring. While some people find budgeting inherently satisfying, for most of us, there’s little interest to be gleaned from moving numbers around on a screen. There’s hundreds of other far more interesting, or pressing, things that you could be doing with your time, so budgeting inevitably falls by the wayside.
However, the eternal truth that budgeting is a good idea is undeniable— so here’s a few suggestions as to how you can make budgeting work for you and your family:
1) Keep it flexible
A rigorous budget might sound like a great idea, but it’s incredibly difficult to stick to. If you want to ensure you still have room for spontaneity in your life, then keep a minimal budget for the essentials (such as bills, insurance payments, etc.) and free-flow everything else. When you get into the habit of doing this, budgeting in other areas will begin to feel more natural.
2) Don’t do it alone
A spreadsheet and a calculator are not the only tools available to you if you want to budget effectively, so make the most of the options out there. There are countless apps you can use to help keep tabs on your spending, and this LearnVest review makes it clear there’s much to be gained from budgeting tools. The easier it is to budget, the more likely you are to stick to it, so make use of the options available to you.
3) Set a budget schedule
One of the best things about budgeting is that it makes life straightforward; you know the way your finances are mapped out for the month, and you can free yourself from financial thoughts for the vast majority of the time. However, many people make the mistake of seeing budgeting as a constant requirement, and will spend hours tweaking and changing their budget as the month progresses. Don’t do this: set a budget you can stick to once per month, and don’t deviate or change it. If there’s something you wish you’d done differently, make a note of it so you can make a change when you do next month’s budget.
4) Allow a contingency
A sudden, unexpected expense is a surefire budget breaker, so a contingency fund is an essential. This should be an amount you can use in an emergency, and it should be kept separate from your main household savings. If you get to the end of the month and you haven’t used your contingency, then you can either save it, or treat the kids to a fun day out.