Managing your finances isn’t always easy. If you’re able, you may ask for the help of professionals to keep your wealth managed. However, for ordinary people earning and receiving pay checks every month (no business revenue or stock profits), money can dissapear in a snap with the absence of budgeting and financial management.
However, simple management of the cash in your wallet may help you get through the month with all bills paid, your needs provided for and savings set aside until the next salary comes. Below are some simple tips and tricks to help you become better at budgeting.
#1 Write down your financial goals
Reaching goals is the major objective of the financial planning process. Grab a piece of paper and write down your bucket list. Always keep in mind the reason why you want to save and what you want to achieve in the future. After that, you can determine what you need to save to achieve your goals.
Saving for a car? Avoid opening your wallet for that newly released iPhone. Stick with what you’ve already planned.
#2 Invest in a really good wallet
Avoid buying a cheap wallet if you want to keep everything in order. A good and sturdy wallet comes with all the right compartments. Once you’ve arranged your wallet you can now easily see what’s still inside and what’s already gone. Place the smaller bills away from the larger ones to avoid spending them at the wrong time. You must be able to locate where everything is; cash, cards and bills when you open your wallet in order to save money and time.
#3 Check your wallet weekly
Coupons, raffle tickets, gift cards and notes sometimes can be inserted between pockets of your wallet. To avoid missing the deadlines, check every piece of paper inside your wallet regularly. Organise them according to importance.
#4 Don’t spend more money than you have
You don’t need to spend for the sake of it. Set priorities on what you are allowed to spend on. Review your budget regularly. Be mindful of your financial status when you are thinking about making a random purchase. This could motivate you to pay off debts rather than spend on what’s out of the budget. One thing you have to avoid is deferring your payments to the next salary you will receive.
#5 Stick to your grocery list
Itemise your grocery based on your household needs. Don’t fall on supermarket tricks that make you spend more money. You do not only save by choosing the items you buy but also by the supermarket you shop at. So just pick up what’s on your list and prepare the list beforehand.
Think about it over and over again before you take out money from your wallet. Ask yourself, do I need this? If the answer is ‘no’ stop wasting your time rationalising. Simply think about how many hours it took you to earn that amount just to buy an unnecessary item. If the answer is ‘yes’ think again if it’s worth the price or not. That way you can save a lot.
#7 Use cash
Only travel with cash to avoid using credit. Make sure when you go out on a vacation you limit your spending. Leave your credit cards at home in a safe place and just bring the amount of real cash that you need or can afford to spend. Furthermore, cash is the most convenient to use for payment anytime and anywhere.
#8 Reduce the credit cards in your wallet
If you can’t avoid using credit, take few steps to reduce your spending. Don’t buy expensive items without planning and researching beforehand.
#9 Do extensive research before making a purchase
Look for the best price you can find across stores, online or offline. Don’t make impulsive purchases, compare quality and prices in different stores. With a few simple clicks on Internet reviews, you will be well informed and could save a lot of money.
#10 Stop the technology upgrade cycle
Technology is very expensive to keep up with. Upgrades are everywhere but you need to start combating the never ending cycle. If your gadgets are still working fine, there’s no need to upgrade. Only do so when your technology is worn out or not working properly.
#10 Save for the future
Take away a fraction of your income for savings before you start paying expenses. You are not legally obliged to spend 100% of your earnings. Save it or set it aside in case of an emergency. Otherwise you will starve when the zero-balance time comes.
#11 Keep the change
Keep your smallest bills. People tend to think that once larger bills are converted to smaller ones they are easily spent. Forget about that and keep every dollar in your pocket. Do not underestimate the value of your change, it will still count in the future when you are in need.
#12 Shop on time
Timing is an essential part of saving money. Note the dates of the discount periods. Know when to buy things. Things that are off season are usually expensive during that time, but not during the regular months. If shopping is not urgent, why not wait for the right time to buy? Or buy at the earliest time possible when demand is low. Take note of the law of supply and demand. When there is an opportunity, like a stocktake sale, purchase what you need to and go.
#13 Strategise the use of electricity
Use only what is necessary in that season. Minimise use of the heater during winter and the air conditioner during summer. Turn these appliances off or unplug them from the socket when you feel there is no need to be using them. Also use those that can save the most energy, you are not only helping yourself but the earth.
#14 Borrow or rent
If it is not something to be used daily or weekly, borrow or rent instead of buying. Do not think that you can buy anything just because you have enough cash in the wallet at the moment. Remember, you do not only earn for the present but for the future as well. Include practicality when rationalising things out.
So instead of buying a suit for a friend’s wedding, try to ask your best friend if they have one you can rent.
Budgeting takes time to master. No matter what rules you set, make sure you stick to them.
To take your budgeting further, use MoneySmart’s Budget Planner.