Tag Archive for Budget

6 Steps to Help You Simplify Your Budget

6 Steps to Help You Simplify Your Budget

6 Steps to Help You Simplify Your BudgetNobody wants to keep track of a complicated budget. Even if you know that budgeting is important, you still don?t want to dedicate a large portion of your free time to this task. When you are away from work, you?d rather be spending time with your family and friends as opposed to staring at a spreadsheet on your computer.

So, is it possible to keep a simple budget for your household? Of course! Here are six helpful tips.

Have a Miscellaneous Category

The task of creating a category for every single penny you spend throughout a month is an unnecessary complication for the budgeting process.

Instead, create a miscellaneous category which can catch various small purchases that don?t fit anywhere else. Of course, this category should have a budget limit just like the rest of your categories, to make sure you don?t waste money on random items during the month.

Use Averages

You aren?t going to know what some of your expenses will be in advance, but you can use average values to even things out.

For instance, your utility bills will likely vary throughout the year, based on weather and other factors. Look at past bills and come up with an average number you can use for budgeting purposes.

Schedule an Annual Review

Trying to update your budget on a monthly basis is probably not necessary. Instead, consider looking at your budget once per year to make changes.

For the rest of the year, you will be using your budget to guide your spending habits ? but you won?t be actively looking to change it. Only when your annual review comes around will you invest the time needed to tweak the budget to match changes in your life.

Keep It in One Place

A spreadsheet is an excellent tool for keeping a budget, so create one and save it somewhere it will be easy to find. You can opt for actual personal finance budgeting tools if you would like, but a spreadsheet will get the job done for most people.

The nice thing about a spreadsheet is that it can be perfectly customized to meet your needs.

Streamline Your Spending

if you spend money using a combination of cash and several different debit/credit cards, it might become difficult to keep track of everything going in and out throughout each month. If possible, try to use a couple of cards as your main method of making purchases.

Buy Less Stuff!

Your budget is naturally going to become less complicated if you simply purchase less stuff throughout the course of a month. Not only will buying fewer things mean you don?t have to do as much work on your budget, but it will also let you save money ? which is the whole point in the first place!

Most people today buy way more than they need, and life gets pretty expensive as a result. Think about your spending habits carefully and there are sure to be places you can find to cut back.


Is your budget simple or complicated? What can you do to make it easier to keep track of?


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5 Easy Ways to Trim the Fat from Your Budget

5 Easy Ways to Trim the Fat from Your Budget

5 Easy Ways to Trim the Fat from Your BudgetWhen you attempt to trim the fat off your body, the steps are relatively obvious. You will probably go on a diet of some kind, and you may get started on a fitness regimen as well. It won?t be easy, but your persistence should pay off in weight loss over the long run.

You can think about your budget in the same way. If you would like to save more money each month, you might need to put yourself on a financial diet. By trimming away some of the unnecessary things from your spending habits, you can put yourself in a better position going forward.

The exact steps you should take to clean up your budget will depend on your situation, but the five tips below may be of assistance.

Cut Out Things You Don?t Use

This is the most obvious place to start. You simply shouldn?t be spending money on things you don?t need, or don?t use regularly.

This might include subscription services that aren?t providing you with good value, or maybe a cable package that you don?t watch enjoy to justify its cost. Take a review of your monthly spending and determine if any of your recurring costs could be cut out.

Dine at Home

You have probably heard this tip before when thinking about budgeting, but it bears repeating over and over again. If you can swap some meals out for meals that you make at home, the savings will add up quickly.

In general terms, you will usually double the cost of a meal when you go out to a restaurant, as compared to making it yourself.

Pay Minimal Interest

When at all possible, you want to avoid paying interest. Again, another relatively obvious point, but one which needs to be made.

Some of the common areas where you may be paying interest include on your home loan, your car loan, and any credit card balances you are carrying. Of those three, the credit card balances should be the easiest to eliminate ? and they also will carry the highest rates ? so target those first.

Shop Around

Sometimes, you can clean up your budget by purchasing fewer items in a given month. But what if you already do a good job of only buying what you need? In that case, you can turn your attention to shopping around for better prices.

Thanks to the power of the internet, it takes only a moment to find the best available price on just about any item.

Get on the Same page

Everyone in the household needs to be on the same page when it comes to budgeting. Make sure adults and children (if they are old enough to spend money) understand the importance of financial goals. This way everyone can work together to keep the budget on track.

If there is a teamwork mentality in place with regard to the money that is spent by your family, some of the wasted ?fat? should quickly be eliminated.


How have you trimmed the fat from your budget? What other ideas can you think of to easily save money?


Photo courtesy of: stevepb

5 Reasons Your Budget Fails Every Month

5 Reasons Your Budget Fails Every Month

5 Reasons Your Budget Fails Every MonthAs you already know, budgeting is a key skill that can help you keep your finances on track in both the short and long-term. However, even if you take the time to craft a budget for your household, you might find that you have trouble hitting the mark each month.

There can be a variety of reasons for coming up short on your budget, and you will need to figure out exactly what is going wrong if you are going to resolve the problem. Below is a list of five potential reasons your budget fails?every month.

Overly Optimistic

More than anything, a budget needs to be realistic. If you aren’t realistic with the budgetary expectations that you set each month, you are inevitably going to fall short.

It might be tempting to think, for example, that you can cut back on your food costs by 20% in the months ahead. However, is that really possible, or are you just setting yourself up for failure?

Be realistic with what is possible and chart a course that you will actually be able to stick with over time.

Losing Track of the Little Things

In the world of budgeting, the little things can add up in a big way, causing you to overspend your budget. What counts as a little thing? For the purposes of this example, let’s count anything under $5 as being a ‘little thing’.

That means snacks that you might buy during your break at work, or the coffee you pick up in the morning rather than making your own cup. None of these expenses seems very important at the time, but they can be crippling to your budget when all added up.


Even if you have already taken the time to think out your budget, it can still be tempting to put off the actual execution of the budget until ‘next month’. Of course, next month never comes and you keep doing the same things over and over again. This can be a difficult cycle to break, but you must find a way if you are going to finally make progress in your financial life.

One Big Mistake

Some people see their budget undone by a series of small purchases throughout the month, while others tend to make just one big mistake which sets them back. If you have a habit of spending a significant amount of money on one big purchase each month, try setting a spending limit for yourself with regard to single items.

For example, if you are thinking about buying anything over $100, you have to stop and think about it for an extra day before making the purchase. By giving yourself a 24-hour period to think about the expense, you may realize that you don’t need to buy that item after all.

You Don’t Have a Budget in the First Place

Of course, your budget can’t work if you don’t have one in the first place. If you don’t bother to take the time to construct a realistic, reasonable budget for yourself and your family, you will have no way to know how much you can spend on a monthly basis. Building a budget actually doesn’t take very much time at all, and yet it can be one of the best things you ever do for your financial life.


Does your budget fail often? Have you noticed any of these things causing your budget fails?


Photo courtesy of: RyanMcGuire

5 Ways Credit Cards Can Be Good for Your Budget

credit cards

credit cards can be goodWhen you think about using a credit card, you might think about them in a negative light. Obviously, running up credit card debt is not desirable for your financial future, so many people choose to avoid cards altogether because of this concern.

However, when used correctly ? and responsibly ? credit cards can be good for your budget. They are actually be a useful financial tool with almost no downside.

If you are trying to decide whether or not you should start using credit cards in your day to day life, consider the following ways credit cards can be good for your budget.

Build Credit Score

This is the point that most people know about, and it is extremely important. Using a credit card, and then paying if off?on time each month, is a great way to build up your credit score. You will be essentially ?proving? your ability to pay off debt, so creditors will be more likely to lend you money in the future for larger purchases like a new car or house.

Save on Interest Rates

Tying in to the point above, you can save money down the line thanks your higher credit score. A higher credit score can help you by securing loans with lower interest rates. You will be seen as less of a risk when you have a good score, which you’ll have built by using your cards responsibly.

Get You Through a Month

You naturally don?t want to have to carry credit card balances for long periods of time, but carrying a balance for just a single month won?t cost you much in interest if you need to work your way through a big purchase. If there isn?t room in your budget for a purchase that you need to make now, using a credit card to give yourself a few weeks of time to put that money together is a reasonable option. That being said, if you don’t know where the money is going to come from them you should steer clear of using that credit card.

Earn Rewards!

Who doesn?t love getting free stuff? If you use the right credit card on a regular basis, you might find that you accrue a variety of rewards that you would not have earned by simply using a debit card. The best part is that this strategy doesn?t need to cost you anything at all, and it won’t as long as you are paying off your statement balance by the due date each month. Look for a card that offers rewards which interest you, like travel rewards or cash back, and make sure there is no annual fee that goes along with it.

Learn Money Management

It can be tempting to have a big credit line at your disposal. But holding a credit card or two is a great way to teach yourself how to manage money properly. You can use your cards to purchase things that are within your budget and you were going to purchase anyway, but resist the temptation to buy things that you don?t need and can?t really afford. Money management is an essential skill to learn and can be easily taught with credit cards.


Do you use credit cards for any of these reasons? Can you think of other ways credit cards can be good for your budget?


Photo courtesy of: Sean MacEntee

3 Ways to Have a Frugal Night Out


9382267192_03112afffc_zUntil I pay off my debt,?I?m living on a pretty strict budget. I do allow myself a bit of ?fun money? each month for entertainment and the like, but it?s very limited. If I were to continue to have nights out with my friends that were the same as before I started living on a budget, my ?fun money? wouldn?t get me very far at all. Instead, I?ve had to get creative so I can have maximum fun on minimum money. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of my tips to have a frugal night out that doesn’t sacrifice on fun. 🙂

Staying Home Is A Great Way To Be Frugal

One of the easiest ways to save on a night out with friends is to have a night in instead. Take turns hosting a girl?s or boy?s night in at each other?s houses. Switching up the location will make it more interesting and by taking turns hosting, each person will have their own turn to plan and cover the expenses of the evening.

You could start off with dinner, or to keep costs even lower, you could meet up after dinner instead. Activities for a night in could be: snacks and a movie or game, giving each other facials or pedicures, cracking open a bottle of wine or having a beer while catching up, or having a themed potluck dinner.

Delay the Start Time

If you really want to go out for your entertainment, start the evening later after everyone?s had dinner. As mentioned before, the cost of your evening will be greatly lessened if you don?t have to pay for dinner. Eat at home before meeting up for drinks and dessert or drinks with an appetizer instead. That’s also not to mention the fact that you might find that you don’t even want to eat while out and thus cutting your cost even more.

Look for Deals

Lots of bar and grill type restaurants have late night happy hour deals that typically begin around 9 or 10 p.m. These deals can usually get you a cheaper drink, as long as you stick to the somewhat limited happy hour menu, and possibly a half-priced appetizer too. This is a great way to spend time catching up with friends while still saving some money.

If you?d like to meet up with friends earlier or go out right after work, you should be able to hit a regular happy hour instead. These earlier happy hours will also have cheaper drinks and sometimes snack type foods that can hold you over until you make it home for dinner, and in some cases the snack food portions can even be big enough that you don?t need dinner after all. Just don?t get in the habit of skipping dinner in favor of these usually unhealthy snacks.

Keeping these tips in mind, there?s no reason why you can?t have an occasional night out with friends, even if you are living on a strict budget to help you meet your financial goals. Meeting your financial goals and sticking to your budget is important, but you can?t live indefinitely with no entertainment budget. The key is to set your entertainment budget at a level you are comfortable with, and make sure you make the most of your limited resources as much as you can.


What other tips do you have to have a frugal, yet still fun night out? What do you use to find deals on entertainment?



Photo courtesy of: Greg Westfall