Let’s face it: budgeting, if never done or forgotten for a while, grows increasingly daunting. If you’ve explored every method for budgeting out there but can’t find the one that fits your lifestyle or schedule, it may be time to simplify your routine or try a more automated option. If you’re ready to dive in and become a Budget Boss, here are three things you need to keep in mind to boot those budget blues.
1. No one budgets manually anymore.
Okay, well, no one needs to budget manually anymore. If thinking about budgeting by hand makes you nervous to start, we get it. Your time is way too valuable to track and input every expenditure one at a time anymore. Many excellent apps do the tracking for you and organize it all. But if you’re a member, why not do it in-house (and for free!) to keep your information safe? Altana’s online banking platform empowers you to do it all if it’s the automation you’re looking for! Get logged in and started with the Money Desktop tab. You’ll have the option to build your budget from scratch or auto-generate from your spending history.
Not only can you auto-build your budget, but you can also automate your savings, your bill pay, and your debt payoff. This is great for two main reasons:
- It eliminates worry. You’ll never have to wonder, “Did I pay the electric bill this month?” because your history is stored right inside online banking and scheduled by you!
- It protects you from any pilot error. Automated finances make it harder for you to sabotage your money—no more late credit card payments (and the associated fees and damage to your credit score). No more skipped IRA contributions. And so on and so on.
Need a helping hand to get these features set up? Drop by any of our branches to meet with an expert to help you get started!
2. Don’t sweat the whole picture.
When it comes to using your money responsibly and keeping your budgeting stress to a minimum, keep track of these fixed monthly expenses first:
- Your rent or mortgage
- Utilities and insurance
- Loan payments (student, auto, etc.)
- Minimum credit card payments
- Desired savings, investments, or additional debt payments
Next, total those fixed monthly expenses. Figure out your net (take-home) pay per month and subtract your fixed monthly payments from your net income. The money you have leftover is yours to spend on needs and wants (think groceries, entertainment, etc.). Taking ten minutes to break down your cash quickly narrows your focus and gives you power over the variables you can manage.
3. Regroup when you’re stressed.
It happens. Whether an emergency came up or you just had a little trouble sticking to your numbers (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), sometimes money gets tight by the end of the month.
First: Don’t stress. It happens, and if you’ve budgeted the way we laid out in step 2, your necessities have been taken care of. Whew! That’s the critical part.
Second: Take a look inside your budget at those variable expenses. Are there small changes you can make to save a few dollars? Do you have the capacity to make a significant change? Sell some things you don’t need or pick up a part-time gig? If you notice coming up short every month is a recurring thing, it might be time for a drastic change. Need help? We’re here to guide you and answer your questions with no judgment.
Take your time to find the routine that works for you. Getting started is enough to be proud of and get you toward a healthy financial future.