Budgeting can seem like a hard task to take on, especially when you’ve never done it before. It can be hard to know where to start, what methods to use to track spending, distinguishing the difference between your “needs” and “wants,” how to measure your success with budgeting, and many other factors. With these few tips, we can turn the seemingly daunting task of budgeting into a simple, rewarding and manageable habit!
- Understand Your Goal: Budgeting, despite the many methods there are to do it, has one universal goal: to spend less than we make in order to save. Whether you are a person that wants to budget by tracking every single penny spent, or by allotting a certain amount of money to a category (food, gas, house/car payments, etc.) to use for the month, that common goal should always be kept in mind.
- Analyze Your Spending Habits: This can be done by looking over your last month’s bank statement, tracking your spending for a week or even a month using a spreadsheet, or looking at your account through an online banking system with your financial institution (Learn more about WSCU’s e-Branch here). Analyzing where you spend money gives you an eye-opening snapshot of where your hard-earned money is going and can give you an idea of where spending needs to be cut and where you can save more.
- Don’t Overwhelm Yourself: If you are someone that finds that tracking every penny you spend helps you save money, that’s great! But, detailed tracking does not have to be done in order to become a successful budgeter. In fact, that can make people stressed out and overwhelmed. Life is busy, and it can be hard to record every transaction conducted. Because we all spend our money in different ways, there are a lot of categories where we may over-spend, such as eating out, clothes shopping, entertainment, etc. A way to save yourself some unneeded stress and discouragement is to identify three categories where you would like to cut spending and to work on those until you have them mastered, and then move onto a different category. This makes your goal of spending less than you make in order to save manageable.
- Find the Method of Budgeting that Works for You: There are many tools and applications out there that are fairly inexpensive, or even free for you to use to aid you in accomplishing your budgeting goal. In fact, there are probably products offered free-of-charge to you from your financial institution! As mentioned before, WSCU offers a budgeting tool called e-Track that’s free, easy-to-use, and accessible. This tool allows you to create a budget, set goals, tracks your cash flow and net worth, and can even alert you about account balances, budget status, and more! What works for one person, may not work for another, so it’s important to find the method that best fits your needs.
As you take on budgeting, remember that you are human and that life gets busy. You may need to splurge a little bit in some categories, but that’s no reason to become discouraged. As long as you are determined to accomplish your budgeting goal and you get back on track, that’s all that matters. As always, feel free to visit your local Weber State Credit Union branch, and we would be more than happy to assist you in accomplishing your financial goals and helping you build a brighter financial future.