Put Your Budget on a Diet!
As the newness of new year ebbs away from us into full on 2020, those resolutions to slim down and shape up seem like a distant memory. While that new gym membership might be uppermost in your thoughts, lets make sure you’ve put your funds in order as well as your fitness. Here are our tips for keeping your 2020 financial goals on task.
Set a goal for your money that is realistic, measurable and attainable. It’s tempting to set up a lofty goal for yourself, but try to keep your feet on the ground. Whatever your goal is, it should be attainable within 12 months. Make it something that requires self-discipline and a bit of sacrifice, but not something that is so tough to attain that you give up entirely.
Once your goal is set, find a family member or friend who will hold you accountable to it and check in with you about it from time to time.
Maybe you are forgetful or just lack discipline, but making sure a little of each paycheck goes into that well-researched savings account is as important as having a savings account. Make it easy on yourself and have a portion of your check go directly into your savings account, then make sure the money left is enough to meet your monthly budget goals.
Setting up a spending budget is one of the most important steps in reaching your financial goals.
To get started, track where your money is being spent. There are lots of apps out that can make this easy for you. On some, you just snap pictures of your receipts, while others will pull the information directly from your bank. Don't discard the idea of the good old-fashioned pen and paper route and carry a small notepad around with you to track every cent.
Do this for at least a month to see how those pennies are disappearing. You might be surprised where your money is going. Those daily visits to the coffee shop can add up, and those compulsive purchases in the $1 section can amount to enough to break your budget.
Any financial goal worth its salt has a budget to go along with it. Some people are comfortable with monthly budgets. Others need a firmer grasp on their income and spending and use a weekly budget model. We recommend taking a full account of your budget at minimum every three months.
You can easily find free print out budget templates online or use one of the many apps available to help you keep track of everything.
Be Smart about your Spending
There are lots of way to be savvy about where you spend your money, here are some ideas:
- Sign up for loyalty programs at your favorite stores
- Sign up for a warehouse club and buy in bulk
- Load coupons to your phone or clip them for your most visited stores
- Plan your shopping trips around sales and daily deals.
When shopping online, check out price comparison websites. Just because something is discounted doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.
Use the Apps
There’s an app for everything, so why not use that technology to get better at budgeting and meeting your financial goals?
There are even apps that help you sell your old clothes and stuff you would normally donate. While you won't typically recoup the cost of the original items, you can earn a little more money to put back into your budget.
Explore signing up for a flexible spending account where you work. FSAs are often offered by employers as part of a benefits package, and they can save you money on health care costs not covered by insurance, including copays and deductibles.
After enrolling, you decide how much you want to contribute for the year. That amount is then deducted from your salary over time, before income tax. You withdraw money from the account to pay for certain eligible medical expenses, which are effectively discounted, thanks to your tax savings. But you must use up all of the funds within your benefits year.
Make a money date with yourself to go through your budget and see if you are on track and where you could make improvements.
When you hit a goal, treat yourself to something you’ve been holding back on in the name of savings. Don’t go nuts - we’re talking a latte, not a Ferrari.
Make sure you sign up for online banking with Allegius. Together, we can make your financial goals a reality.