Whether you are looking to upgrade to a better apartment, buy a house, do renovations or start saving early for retirement, budgeting can help with each of these goals. The idea of budgeting may be intimidating so here are a few tips to get you started.
Make Your Own Chart
There are a lot of templates on the internet that you can download or purchase to make budgeting a breeze, but sometimes these can be more hassle than they’re worth. Most of them have preset formulas that can be hard to manipulate and have designated categories that may not fit your lifestyle. The best way to have a personalized working budget is to create your own. By doing this, you can create the categories you need and arrange them in a way that makes the most sense for your life, making it easy to use.
Your food budget can easily be one of the largest expenses you have. The best way to keep this category from getting out of hand is to meal plan. Meal planning takes away those times where you don’t know what to make so you might as well go out to eat, prevents overbuying and can help in cutting down food loss from expiry. You can meal plan by week or by month. Plan out breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners, then write down what ingredients and foods you need. Don’t forget to take leftovers into consideration so you don’t plan too many meals. Lastly, save a list of fruits and vegetables you need for each meal and buy them the day before or day of so you don’t risk those fresh foods going bad and wasting money.
If you are just starting out with budgeting, don’t constrain yourself too much from the get-go. Making a drastic lifestyle change can result in quitting after only a short time. If you find yourself spending $150 per month on dining out, maybe cut back to $125 or $100 to start. From there, work your way down to where you are comfortable. It can take a couple months to a couple years to figure out the best budget for each category and to meet your budgeting goal, but that’s okay because you’re working on it! Be realistic with yourself about your lifestyle and decide what you can and cannot live without. The more successful you are at the start of your budget, the more likely you are to continue and improve.
Don’t Say No to Fun
Just like with a diet, no budget is going to work if you never let yourself enjoy life every now and then. Go out to dinner or see that movie, just make these outings occasional. Allot a portion of your budget for entertainment or dining out and make sure you stick to it. If you are under budget one month and want to increase next month’s a little bit because your friends want to have a night out, feel free to do so! Flexibility is a great component to a budget, but be careful that you don’t use that flexibility as an excuse to break it.
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