Do you suck at money? I sure did. But you don’t have to. You can learn to be a better budgeter and improve your financial situation almost immediately. Let’s get started…
No. 1 Stop Making Excuses
“I don’t have enough money to have a budget.”
“I deserve to have nice things.”
“I have so much debt that I’ll never pay it off. Why try?”
Jeez, Louise. Seriously? You can’t really believe this. I know it seems super hard to start adulting, but you can do it!
Starting today, I want you to do these three things to be a better budgeter:
- Open your bills. When a bill comes in the mail, open it immediately, look at it then file it. Not looking won’t make it go away.
- Stop paying overdraft fees. You simply cannot spend more than you make. Think of all the wine you could buy with that money.
- Stop saying YOLO. You may only live once, but you’re going to be living sad and broke if you keep spending all of your money on dumb stuff.
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No. 2 Learn the Difference Between Wants & Needs
You need food, air and shelter. You want wine, shoes and Starbucks. Other misconceptions include…
- Kids NEED more stuff. Trust me when I tell you that your kids will value the attention you give them much more than things. Besides, buying more stuff means buying more things to store said stuff in. It’s a vicious cycle.
- We NEED organic, grass-fed, non-gmo, etc. We need to feed our families a variety of real food but do some research before you reach for organic in the grocery store.
- You NEED wine. Wait, this is totally true. Stop buying organic cauliflower and use that money on a box of wine. It will benefit everyone.
No. 3 Write It Down
Creating a budget is a must. Use a spreadsheet, a piece of scratch paper or your amazing, free budget bundle. Oh, you don’t have yours yet? Click here, enter your email address and get one, sweetie!
To be a better budgeter, you need to be crystal clear on…
Income. You gotta know who much you have before you decide how much you can spend.
Expenses. How much do you have to spend each month on necessities like your mortgage, car payment, utilities, etc.?
Debt. How much do you owe and how much are you paying in interest? This can be a little depressing, but having the facts is the first step to freedom.
Savings. If you’re not saving, you need to start. More on that next.
No. 4 Pay Yourself First
Putting money in your savings account means that you’re paying yourself. You always have money to save. In fact, the lower your income, the more important it is to have a safety net.
Remember these things when you’re planning your saving strategy:
- Make it automatic. Have your savings automatically deducted from your paycheck and deposited into a savings account. If you don’t see the money, you won’t miss it.
- Retirement. Retirement may seem like a long way off. It will be even longer if you don’t have any money saved! Also, many employers match retirement savings. If you’re not taking advantage of that, you’re literally throwing money away.
- Save it, don’t spend it. Seems obvious, but it’s worth pointing out. Your savings account should not just be a pass-through to your checking account. It might be easier to use a different bank for savings so you don’t have such easy access.
No. 5 Cut Spending
Look for ways to spend less:
Meal planning. After our mortgage, food is our biggest expense. Careful meal planning can cut your grocery bills way down. For a detailed meal planning strategy, read this.
Negotiate. Call your cellular, cable and internet providers and ask for a discount. It may seem crazy, but they’re very likely to give it to you. They would rather lose a few bucks a month than a customer.
Subscriptions. Do you really need subscriptions to four magazines? Not with Pinterest!
Shop for better value. Are you getting the best rate you can on insurance? Check other providers to see if you can save.
Refinance. Have interest rates dropped recently? Contact your lenders to see if refinancing your loan is an option. Be sure to consider the cost of refinancing versus the amount you could save.
No. 6 Be Accountable
In order to be a better budgeter, everyone needs to be on board. You can come up with a fantastic budget and savings plan, but if your husband isn’t willing to follow it, you may not get very far.
- Discuss. Schedule a budgeting date to discuss your finances. Do it when you both are calm and won’t be distracted by the kids or TV.
- Don’t judge. Sometimes you have to print out a bank statement in order to see just how much you spent at Target last month. Don’t judge one another, just deal with the facts and get back on track.
- Evaluate. Review your budget occasionally to make sure it’s still working for you. If you got a raise, you might want to increase savings. If your car keeps breaking down, it may be time to consider a new one.
- Reward. When you’ve stuck to your budget, you need to celebrate. Share an actual bottle (not box) of wine and binge watch Netflix together. Don’t break the bank, but do make a big deal out of your success!
No. 7 Stop Paying Late Fees & Avoid Paying Interest
If you don’t pay your bills on time, you are wasting money. Know the due dates and pay every, single bill on time, every time. If you do nothing else in this post, do this.
If you can’t afford to pay your credit card off every month, don’t buy things with it. It’s really that easy. If you must charge something in an emergency, make a plan to pay it off as quickly as possible. Do you really want to be paying interest on lunch at Panera? Nope.
If you do have a balance on a credit card, always, always, always pay more than the minimum payment. The minimum payment is designed to keep you in debt. Don’t fall for it.
Who’s My Big Girl?
If you’ve been stumbling along, always feeling like you don’t have any money and stressing about how to pay your bills, now is the time to stop. Take a deep breath and commit to being a better budgeter. I promise you that taking charge will be a good thing, even if it’s hard.
Okay, now print out your pretty budget pages and get started!
P.S. Pin this so you can refer back to it later!
You have so many amazing printables Kim! Super solid advice in this post. Life is so much better when you create and stick to a budget. And I love that you encourage couples to talk about finances without judging one another…just come up with a workable plan!
Thanks, Miranda! When you can come together about money, you’re on the road to a successful marriage.
Thanks for sharing! Budgeting takes discipline, but it is so worth it to help re-adjust to living at or below our means.
It does take hard work but it really pays off!
Great article! By the way, you can also cut spending by reducing utility bills. Here are some tips on how to do it:
1. Use sunlight to heat the house – open the curtains during the day. And close the curtains in hot weather so that you don’t need to turn on the air conditioner.
2. Update windows and doors if yours are old and have cracks. This is an expensive investment, but it will pay off by reducing your heating costs.
3. Don’t neglect isolation. Isolate the attic. Isolate the outer pipes. It could help reduce heat loss by 25 to 45%!
4. Check all your electrical appliances. Old ones lose their energy efficiency and consume more energy.
I hope you’ll find it useful 🙂
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