Ah, budgets. We love them, we hate them, we love to hate them. Our feelings aside, a budget is crucial in order to meet your financial goals. Here are some resources and tips that we found to be useful in this process:
Is sitting down with your spouse to pay bills and create a budget fun? Nope! But, it’s not too far fetched to get in the mindset of wanting to save. What are your goals? Do you want to be debt-free? Do you want to buy a home? Discuss these things with your partner so that you both are on the same page.
Track Your Spending
No this doesn’t mean saving your receipts, but at the end of the day/week (whatever works best with your schedule) categorize and track what you spent. We use the app, EveryDollar. It’s incredibly user-friendly for creating a budget and tracking spending; nothing compares. (Oh, and it’s free!)
Do you have a set budget for groceries, eating out, etc? Pull the exact amount of cash you need to avoid over-spending and relapsing on your budgeting goals. We all know it hurts a little bit more to hand the cashier cash instead of swiping our card.
Use an Envelope System
This is just an organizational tool to help you categorize your cash so you can keep it all in once place. We use a small accordion folder with labels to keep cash in (I also store coupons there too). We use one that looks like this, but you can score them on the cheap in dollar sections of major retail stores. Don’t overwhelm yourself with every single category of spending, just pick the major ones. For example, groceries, gas, toiletries, and fun money are good places to start.
Do This, Not That
Having a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, it just means reigning it in a little. If Adam and I start feeling a little spendy, we’ll try to think of a free (or cheaper) alternative. For example, if we’re trying to cut back on coffee runs, we’ll try to make some coffee at home. If beverages are your weakness, try recreating yourself. By purchasing a favorite syrup flavor or specialty coffee bean, you could save a lot of $$ during the month by making it yourself.
Save for Adventure
I don’t know about you, but I get cabin fever pretty easily. I love being out and about and seeking new adventures to experience with my family, but excursions aren’t always affordable. If you have a particular destination that’s on your bucket list, team up with your spouse to figure out how to make the dream a reality. Do some research on the cheapest times to travel and look ahead on lodging. Airbnb is an excellent option to save money on your stay, as well as snagging a cozier place as well. If you’re not finding extra room in the budget to save, cut back on another category temporarily in order to beef up your travel fund.
What are your tips and tricks for keeping your budget in check? Do you have any hacks that have saved you some money? We’d love to hear from you!