No one likes the word “budget”. But, these 7 budget tips will definitely help you find ways to save money for your family. Now that is something to appreciate!
7 Budget Tips to Help Save Money Today!
So, budgeting isn’t always the most popular topic because it requires a lot of work. Plus, it hurts just a little. But, as strange as it may seem, there is something about crunching all of those numbers that has always been a little fun to me.
Calculating all of your life and home expenses is a wonderful way to keep you focused on what changes need to be made going forward.
In my budgeting past, there are several key elements I feel need to be in place for a budget to really work.
1. Be sure your spouse or significant other is on board with the budget goals!
If your spouse is not in the same place as you with money, this makes budgeting a real challenge. Every relationship is different, so what works for one couple will go no where for the next.
In my humble opinion a few things are worth considering when discussing a budget with your spouse / significant other:
- What are your family’s long term goals?
- Show that you are understanding to your spouse’s budget concerns or lack of interest. Try to relay why it is important to you. Be kind. Money is a tender topic –I didn’t mean for that to be a pun, but that’s funny… “tender” topic 😉
- Voice your financial concerns in a well-thought-out manner. Having specific, real-life examples of your personal money circumstances can go a long way in convincing your spouse that budgeting can be of benefit to your family.
2. Start your budget by including the big necessities.
There are a few things that are non negotiable within a budget. Shelter, food, and clothing rank right up there. However, we all know that there is a huge spectrum of what is really “needed” even within those categories.
Be honest with yourself about what you need verses what you want. Believe me, I know this can be challenging. Keep your end goal in mind! Are you trying to pay off a student loan or car loan?
Short-term sacrifices can add up to big payoffs in the end!
Other “big necessities” would be utilities, vehicle loan (if you have one), insurance, gas, etc.
List all of the expenses you feel your family must have each month.
When I do this, I often find that even within “must have” categories, there are simple ways I can shave costs. If you are looking for day-to-day ways to save money, I wrote a post entirely on this category: 20 Great Ways to Save Money.
3. Plan your budget with the unexpected in mind.
Unfortunately, life happens. This is why an emergency fund is so important. Car maintenance expenses, a broken appliance, illness, the list goes on.
Having a cushion for unforeseen expenses is necessary.
So, at the end of the month if you have money left over and you do NOT have an emergency fund, start one! There is a pretty big chance you’ll need it one day.
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4. Budget Tips: Try using cash instead of credit or even checks
Good ‘ole Dave Ramsey started a huge craze with the cash envelope system several years ago. It was popular because it works.
Spend only the money you have and you’ll quickly figure out what you need verses what you just want.
If you are interested in learning more about the cash envelope system, click here for a full explanation!
Speaking of Dave Ramsey, If you haven’t read The Total Money Makeover, it is definitely worth your time.
5. Write down every penny you spend for an entire month
I have done this at least one month every year for as long as I can remember. It can be eye opening.
For me, I struggle with the nickel and dime expenses. My tendencies are to want little things here and there, but they add up. By doing this exercise, I feel more in tune with my money and what I really should be spending.
You may feel that the big purchases are more of a struggle for you. Either way, try this strategy and I guarantee you’ll be a bit surprised at everything that you’ve purchased throughout the course of the month.
The method you select to keep track is up to you. The biggest tip I can share on this point is to make it convenient!
I love my daily planner and it goes everywhere with me. SO, that fits in my life. The image of the above grid was something I quickly made to keep track of my spending this month. You may wish to use the notes section in your phone if that is more convenient in your life.
The key is to make note of EVERYTHING you purchase, the moment you pay for it.
Sometimes I even avoid a purchase that I might otherwise have made because I don’t want to take the time to write it down! OR, because I am a little embarrassed to have to write it as it might be a bit more frivolous than I feel I need (ahem…I guess that means it’s a want!).
6. Be realistic with your budget
I can envision this going to either extreme.
One, not planning for ALL of the things that might come up during the course of the month. OR, budgeting too much in specific areas that aren’t necessary.
This is where a significant other can really be helpful. Determining how much to budget in each area takes careful thought. Each family and situation is different.
Consider your circumstances.
If you have never kept a budget before, it can be hard on the heart. Even with 100% good and perfect intentions, things don’t go as planned. Pretty much ever. That is just life.
So have some grace for yourself. With a month or so under your belt, you’ll have a better idea what you need to do going forward!
7. Include “Fun” in the budget
If at all possible, fun money should be included in the budget. Of course, this amount will look different for each person and likely each month.
But, we all need fun in our life!
What you might find is there are really creative ways to have fun without spending much, or perhaps ANY money!
What are your favorite budget tips?
I’d love to hear any budget tips that work great for you! Leave a comment below and let us in on your budgeting secrets!
Want more money and life organization tips?
- 20 Great Ways to Save Money
- Charitable Donations Tracking Sheet
- Worksheets to Set Goals for the Year, Quarter, Month, and Week