So you’ve set a budget and on paper it looks fabulous. You’ve created different spending categories and what seem like reasonable limits. Yet, somehow it just doesn’t quite work month after month. Sound familiar? It’s frustrating, but there are fixes.
The first thing to do is double check that your budget is reasonable, given factors like income and goals. If everything looks set up for success, then ask yourself if any of the following habits are derailing your master-plan:
1. Impulse purchases
If you’re prone to buying items on a whim, this might be your culprit. Even if it’s a coffee a day or pack of gum every time you’re standing in line at the check out counter, those costs add up. It’s an even bigger problem if you can’t walk into a store without buying all the amazing things, whether you need them or not. The key thing to think on is want vs. need.
2. Blurring the line between needs and wants
All budgets are loosely based on allotting your spending between needs (mortgage, bills) and wants (entertainment, eating out). In theory, the division between the two categories is clear. However, in the moment, the line can get blurry.
For example, you might justify treating yourself to dinner at a restaurant because you had the worst day ever, even if the meal is going to exceed your “eating out” limits for the week or month. Remember, budgets don’t have to be a bummer. Allow yourself small adjustments here and there, but be sure everything adds up. If you spend more in one category, spend less in another. Easy peasy.
3. Not tracking your spending
Unless you can remember every single purchase you make throughout a budget cycle, review your spending regularly. If it’s hard to work this task into your normal routine, set a schedule for yourself, e.g. every three days, spend two minutes looking at your checking account activity. Super tip: setting reminders on your phone is an easy way to make this a recurring event. With our U-Banking platform, there are plenty of awesome savings tools you can start using today.
Whenever you see an expense you don’t remember or didn’t plan, make sure you add it to your total costs for the week, month, or whatever timeline you’ve set.
4. Failing to comparison shop
If you always take the first deal you find when shopping, you’re probably spending more than you have to. Next time, do a little comparison shopping to see if there’s a better offer. This is especially true if you’re buying online. With the intense competition between online retailers, it’s always worth your time to shop around for better prices.
5. You don’t automate your savings
Putting money into your savings account may be the most important part of your budget. However, if you transfer it manually, you may forget or avoid doing it because you’ve over-spent in other areas.
The solution? Set up recurring transfers from your checking to your savings account through U-Banking. Designate a day (preferably just after you get paid) and a predetermined amount, then let technology do the rest. That way, you’ll always hit your savings goals every month.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be a chore or something you frown over. With a few thoughts and easy steps, you’ll smile when you notice the extra bucks at the end of your timeline.