When it comes to budgeting and managing money well it can be tough to figure out what you should do and what advice to follow. So, I thought I’d share just a few tips that you definitely should follow when it comes to budgeting.
Okay this is a duh one but if you don’t already budget, you need to do it.
Depending on where you are with budgeting and your season of life will determine how you budget. If you’re truly stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, I encourage you to try the Quick Start Budget as it will help you break the cycle so you can regain control over your money.
If you’re not in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, but you’ve never created a budget before, I encourage you read over the Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting (it’s super quick) to help you get started.
If you’re not new to budgeting and have budgeted before but maybe fell off the bandwagon, I encourage you to create your budget (make sure you look over your calendar when creating it to avoid missing important events/appointments) and to make sure that your budget is a “zero-balance”. Meaning that your income – expenses = $0 so all of your money has a “job”. It doesn’t mean that you’re spending all your money, just that your money is going towards expenses, savings, debt payoff, retirement funds, etc – it’s not just sitting there waiting to disappear.
If you have an irregular income, head here for how my family creates a budget as a self-employed household.
2. Keep a Buffer
I’m a huge fan of keeping a buffer in your checking account. The exact amount is up to you but I recommend that you keep 5-10% of your income in your checking as a buffer. For more ideas on how much to keep as a buffer, read this post here from my friend Natalie who shares advice from several other personal finance bloggers.
And speaking of “buffers”, if you’ve been hanging out here for a while you know that I’m a huge fan of having a “slush fund” – a buffer account that’s between your checking account and emergency fund. We typically keep it at a $1,000 but the again, the amount is up to you. The reason behind this account is that it helps to keep us from having to reach into the emergency fund to fix budget mistakes.
3. Emergency Fund
If you don’t already have one started, get started today. This fund should take precedence over any other fund or paying off debt. Emergencies can and do happen so make sure your family is secure with an emergency fund.
For more on building up an emergency fund, head here.
4. Pay off debt
Obviously because we’re almost a 100% debt-free, I’m a huge fan of not having any debt at all but I also understand that not everyone desires to be like me. But regardless of what “debt camp” you fall into, make sure that you are living within your means and that you dump the burden of debt.
So even if your goal isn’t to pay off your house and be 100% debt-free, make sure that you’re not carrying a balance on your credit cards. If you are, then it’s time to pay off that debt and if you’re carrying around student loans you know what a pain in the neck those things are – so pay ’em off! For more on paying off student loans, visit this post.
5. Give yourself grace
When you stumble or make even the biggest budget mistakes, don’t forget to give yourself grace. Mistakes can and will happen so make sure that you offer forgiveness to everyone – including yourself for mistakes made.
Okay, so what’s your number one tip for making living life by a budget a reality?
Enter your email address below and I'll email you the Excel template that we used to get out of debt!