decide what’s important to you
To begin, you’ll need to decide what your goals are. Do you want to save for a house? A car? Retirement? Once you have an idea of what you’re saving for, it makes it easier to set a budget and stick to it.
Once the goals are determined, compare them against one another and consider which one is most important to you at this time in your life.
If your goal is a specific purchase like investing in stocks or buying a new car, then take note of how much money will be needed and plan accordingly by setting aside enough money each week or month until that goal is reached.
track your expenses weekly.
Once you have a budget, the next step is to track your spending. This helps make sure that you are staying on track with your budget and not overspending. It also helps identify where you are spending too much money so that you can make changes in the future to reduce costs.
Here’s how to do it:
- Track your expenses weekly using our budget tracker tool!
- Keep a record of all income, bills and expenses (including any savings or debt payments).
cut back on non-essentials.
Cut back on non-essentials
You might not consider these things to be “non-essentials,” but it’s easy to let your spending creep up without noticing. Here are some typical non-essentials that you can cut back on in order to save money and live within your means:
- Cable or streaming services
- Dining out for lunch and dinner (or at least eating out less)
- New clothes, makeup, accessories, etc.
create a budget.
Create a budget. It’s the only way you can get a true picture of your financial health, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Once you’ve decided how much money you can afford to spend each month, divide that number by 12 (or however often your paychecks come in) and write that number on the top of your ledger or spreadsheet. Then, as you go through each week or month—depending on how often you get paid—add up every single thing that comes out of your bank account and record it under the appropriate column.
To save automatically, open a savings account and set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to the savings account each month. This way, you’ll never even see the money in your checking account. Or use a debit card linked to that savings account—that way, every time you make a purchase with that card, it will first pull from the linked debit card and only then let you use money in your bank account.
We hope that you’ve found this information useful and will continue to use it to help with your budgeting. Remember that it takes time to create a new habit, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away! We know how hard it can be sometimes when we spend all day at work, then come home only wanting to relax. But we also know how rewarding financial freedom feels like once you do reach your goals (and especially when paying off debt). So keep going strong!