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’s 3 things you need to keep in mind to boot those budget blues.
1. No one budgets manually anymore.
Okay well, no one should budget manually anymore. Your time is way too valuable to track and input every expenditure one at a time anymore. There are a ton of awesome apps out there that do the tracking for you and organize it all. But if you’re a member, why not do it in-house to keep your information safe? If it’s automation you’re looking for, Altana’s online banking platform empowers you to do it all! Get logged in and get 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.
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 expenses from your net pay. The money you have leftover is yours to spend on needs and wants (think groceries, entertainment, etc.). Taking ten minutes to break down your money this way quickly narrows your focus and gives you power over the variables you can manage.
3. Regroup when you’re strapped.
It happens. Whether it be because 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, you’re necessities have been taken care of. Whew! That’s the important 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 big 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, no judgment.
Take your time to find the routine that works for you. Simply getting started is enough to be proud of and will get you on the path toward a strong financial future.