5 Steps for More Effective Stress-Free Budgeting

We all know that it’s important to spend less than we earn. Unfortunately, making sure that you arrange your cash in such a way that you can have more money left over for things like saving is easier said than done.

Being able to spend less than you earn is a great goal to drive for. It means that you can get out of debt faster, save more money aside for emergency, and even stash extra cash for your retirement. Of course, if you’ve tried to budget more effectively before and you’ve struggled to achieve your goals, you might be wondering how you can do things differently now.

The following strategies could help you to get more out of your budgeting strategy and reduce your chances of falling off the frugal wagon.

1. Have a Goal in Mind

The first thing you need to do when you want your budget to succeed is make sure that you have a solid goal in mind. The goal of budgeting is to track every penny you spend, and that’s certainly one way that you can budget. However, that’s not the ultimate target you’re trying to achieve from a personal perspective. Decide why you’re saving money in the first place and use your decision to motivate you into making the right choices in the months and years ahead.

Some people might want to save money, so they can afford to go on a family vacation, whereas others might simply want to have more control over their spending habits. There’s no wrong answer here, just choose the goal that works to inspire you.

2. Track Your Spending

Once you’ve decided what the goal of budgeting is going to be, you can start to think about how you can achieve your goals. The only real way to make sure that you stick to your budget, and that you’re moving in the right direction with your decisions, is to track your spending. While the thought of watching everything you spend can be exhausting at first, it will help you to see how spending even very small amounts of money quickly adds up in the long term. Ideally, you should track your spending for a full month, but tracking for a week can also provide you with valuable information about your spending patterns.

Once you’ve tracked everything for a month, sit down with your bank statements and think about where you can afford to cut back.

3. Compare to Cut Costs

A lot of people assume that if they want to stop spending as much on their day-to-day expenses, they’ need to get rid of the things that they enjoy in life, like trips to the movies and nights with friends. Although you will need to make some compromises, you can also cut some serious costs by simply comparing the prices of the bills you pay for each month.

For instance, if you’ve been thinking of taking out a loan, comparing the loans available to you can help you to save some serious money on interest rates in the years ahead.

4. Charge things To Your Credit Card

A lot of experts recommend simply switching to using only money to pay for all your expenses if you want to save cash. Spending with money can force you to pay more attention to everything you spend, and therefore cut down your impulse buying significantly. However, this isn’t the only option you can consider.

Paying with plastic is also a good way to monitor your spending if you want to make sure that you’re tracking all of your expenses accurately. Paying for the things you want on a credit card will help you to watch all the pennies, and it could also save you some cash if you have a rewards card. Just make sure you compare options for the best credit card deal.

5. Use Tools to Help you

Finally, if you find yourself struggling to cut back on costs and stick to your budget, then you could always try finding a few tools that might help you. These days, you don’t have to rely on a piece of paper and a pen to help you track all your costs. Instead, you can make sure that you’re cutting down properly by tracking everything on a smartphone app.

There are plenty of great budgeting tools out there that are either free to use, or very cheap. Ultimately, it’s all about finding the method that works best for you. Some people prefer to use an app, whereas others find that the pen and paper method is just as good.

Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk. Omacl is a broker, not a lender, and does not make credit decisions.