Do you ever run out of cash at the end of the month? That has got to be the most frustrating part of budgeting, in my opinion: Staying on it. To help boost your frugal efforts, I’ve put together a simple list of ways for you use some advanced budgeting as you track your spending this month.
3 Simple Ways to Use Advanced Budgeting to Stay On Track
1. Don’t skip miscellaneous purchases.
I’m more of a big thinker than a details person. That causes problems when I try to stay on budget but completely overlook less common expenses.
Some examples of easy expenses to overlook may include:
- Impulse purchases
- Back to school supplies
- Auto repairs
- Showers, weddings, and birthdays
- Pet vaccines
Each of these expenses can derail your budget if they aren’t included. It takes time, but experience has taught me that it’s best to give them a spot on your spending plan from the start.
2. Track irregular expenses.
Your very first budget probably didn’t include long-term and irregular purchases. You upgrade to advanced budgeting by simply asking yourself a few questions about your expenses.
Does your auto insurance renew every six months? Once a year? Don’t just renew when the time comes but compare auto insurance quotes online and find the best rate.
Have you started saving for Christmas yet?
Do you have any other oddly timed expenses that aren’t usually on your budget? I used to just assume I’d obliterate my checking account every December (not my proudest moment, but it’s totally true).
Then, I learned a great way to stay on budget with irregular expenses.
- Determine how much money you’ll need (i.e. Auto insurance for one year: $800)
- Divide by the 12 months in a year ($800 \ 12 = $67)
- Set up an automated withdrawal from checking for $67 each month into a designated savings account.
- Create a simple spreadsheet with an ongoing list of your irregular expenses like holidays, travel, a replacement vehicle, and so on.
If you can take steps like these to plan ahead, you’ll not only see progress pretty quickly, but you’ll begin to set yourself apart from the 76% of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, according to CNN Money. The freedom that comes with having enough money to go around each month is the kind of thing that goes beyond a bank balance. It can help your mindset, stress level, quality of conversations with your spouse, and, if you’re like me, it will give you the freedom to begin dreaming of the future again.
3. Agree to check in at the halfway point this month.
Two of the hardest yet most successful ways I’ve managed to stay on budget were by facing it head on and admitting when I needed help. I’m a professional head-in-the-sand budgeter, hence my difficulty in facing problems – especially of my own making. When I faced them, and even went one extra step by asking my spouse for help and accountability halfway through the month, progress was my result.
Do you have to check in multiple times every month? No, but if you agree to an open-door policy with your budget and revisit it the minute you see storm clouds on the horizon, you’ll save yourself a lot of problems.
Advanced budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated. It looks a lot like being intentional, setting goals, and paying attention to details. Establishing good habits like these certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but even one step toward better money management will improve your financial wellness.
For further help getting your budget reorganized, check out “How to Organize Your Finances.”
Share your best tip for staying on budget in the comments below!
Image Credit: Alejandro Escamilla (Unsplash)