Don’t be discouraged if you’re having a hard time budgeting. If it were easy we’d all be a lot richer.
So, whether you need some quick wins or you want to strengthen your game, here are 3 easy-to-follow tips to try.
3 Quick Tips for Better Budgeting
1. Weekly Accounting
I’ve found weekly accounting to be a really important part of my budgeting process.
Here’s how it works:
- I pick a day (Sunday for me) and a general time (after my kids go to bed) when I’ll enter all my expenses into my budget spreadsheet.
- I open up my online banking and go to the transactions page for my checking account. I also get out any receipts I have saved (it’s a good idea to save receipts because sometimes the online transactions aren’t easy to figure out).
- I plug all my spending into my budget spreadsheet, see how much money I’ve spent so far and see how much I have left to spend for the rest of the month. Then my husband and I go over everything (I’ve found it’s important that both of us are on the same page as we both spend our money).
Doing a weekly accounting of my spending has really helped me stick to it and stay focused on my budgeting goals. I also noticed a big change in my budgeting habits when I started do this – it made sticking to a budget seem possible.
If you’re not at the point where you’re tracking receipts and checking them against your statements just yet, you can try using the time for something else budgeting related. You might try paying bills or doing a general overview of your finances. Even if you start small, getting in the habit of having a “budgeting time” every week will help you reinforce good financial habits.
2. Meal Planning
Planning out meals is essential for me when I want my budgeting to stay on track.
If I don’t meal plan I often give way to whatever junk food cravings I have while shopping (usually not in the budget) or half of what I buy goes off before I can eat it.
While meal planning is simple it can also be time-consuming. Luckily, once you have a system, planning will get easier every week.
This is what menu planning looks like for me:
- Write out breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner ideas in a list.
- Find recipes for each meal I want to use, and make a note of where I can find the recipe again.
- Write the above meals in a calender, making sure I have filled in 3 meals for each day of the week.
- After I know the meals I’m making all week, I write down the ingredients required for each meal and put those ingredients on my shopping list.
*My secret to never having to plan for lunches: Always make enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day. While this might not work for everyone in the family (picky kids I’m looking at you…) it does help streamline meal planning and grocery shopping for everyone it will work for.
Another game changer for me was using online grocery shopping services. Not only does this help me with my budgeting but it helps me stick to healthier eating as I’m not tempted in every aisle I walk through. It’s also so easy to pick up – just sit in the car and wait.
3. Find a Way to Make a Little Bit Extra
Sometimes you just need to make a little bit extra to meet your budgeting goals and enjoy the process. I’ve started doing this by using Checkout 51.
Checkout 51 is an app/website that gives you money back on things you buy–mostly groceries and household products.
Here’s how to do it so you can try too:
- Download the checkout 51 app on your phone (I think you can also just use the website).
- Sort through deals and choose the ones you want.
- Take a picture of our receipts and upload them to prove you bought the items.
- Once you earn a minimum of $20, you can cash in your earnings.
You don’t have to do everything at once
Remember, especially if you’re having a hard time, start small. It’s more likely you’ll stick to it and better enjoy the process. Just choose one tip to start out with and adjust it to where you’re at.
You can do it!
Comment below if one of these tips have worked for you or if you have any other easy-to-follow budgeting tips.