My dear painters, we are gathered here today to talk about a very, very, very serious topic: money.
Okay, that probably sounded way too serious! But you know, not living in poverty or bankruptcy is actually quite a serious topic. What I want with this post is for you guys to get some ideas on how to tackle this issue! If you’re the type of person that is always running short on money because you didn’t stick to their – or simply don’t have a – budget, maybe you’ll find this useful. So let’s talk about financial habits, shall we?
Track your expenses.
This is everyone’s first budget tip because, in order to know what kind of budget is going to work for you, you need to know how you normally spend your money! There are a number of ways to do this: you can write down your daily expenses on a notebook or planner, take a look at your extracts (although those aren’t very specific…), store receipts (and go through them daily, so your wallet doesn’t turn into a chaotic mess!) or use an app like Dollarbird (that I’ve talked about in a previous post).
At the end of the day, what you need is a monthly spreadsheet of how much money went to what category of stuff and how much you spent overall. Pretty easy, huh? 😉
Take what you tracked and design a budget that works.
So now you have two or three months (maybe more, like in my case!) to look back on and you can see your spending pattern pretty well. Take a piece of paper and start by writing down your absolutely regular expenses: in my case, I put down things like my metro monthly pass, the cellphone bill, my step classes and trips to the beautician. For things like food (including eating out), clothes, expenses with college supplies and such, I just took a look at what I usually spend and rounded that up to an even number.
If you have a monthly spending goal (preferably below your income) that you’d like to set, I suggest dividing that up by these more flexible expenses. Add it all up, see how much of your income will (hopefully) be left to save and you’re done!
Stick to the budget!
Now for the hardest part: like most of you probably know already, compared to this step, the past two were a piece of cake!
What you want to do is to keep your budget in mind regularly, so keeping it in sight is probably a good idea as well: write it down in a prominent page of your planner, on your phone or get it on some sort of display board you may have on your desk. If you keep seeing it, there’s less of a chance you will forget it! Also, setting monthly goals, deciding priorities or reminding yourself of that gorgeous laptop you’re saving up to be able to buy are all great motivators! Be flexible with yourself, but be able to tell when you need that extra spending versus when you’re just bored or taking refuge in a new purchase.
Saving tips and other random points.
In terms of saving, the song remains the same: look out for the cheapest prices (but keep in mind quality!) and promotions, that may allow you to stock up on your favorite goodies. DIY versions of certain items are always a good idea! Try to take your lunch and snacks to school or work, for instance, it will help you cut down a lot on your eating out expenses. Also, take a look at Ebay, thrift shops or second hand stores for really good deals!
As far as financial habits go, just make sure you pay your bills on time and always keep receipts of important purchases for at least a year – more, if you need it for the warranty.
That is it! I hope you found this post helpful and a bit of a guide on how to get started in the world of financial responsability. Before signing off for today, here are some more resources I hope you guys can enjoy! There are plenty of free printables, blog posts filled with more sage advice than mine and just cute binders (who doesn’t love cute binders??) everywhere 😉