Proper monthly money management can be key to meeting your financial goals. If you’re looking to build a good budget or figure out how to save more and have money to spend on the things you love, here are some tips:
Start with the 50/30/20 rule
Have you heard of the 50/30/20 rule? It’s a rough budget that breaks your spending into three categories: it allocates 50% of your post-tax income for needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings, investing, and paying down debt.
The 50/30/20 budget can be a great tool for busy people because the broad categories mean your budget doesn’t have to be too detailed. It builds in savings and allows for fun stuff, impulse purchases, and other non-necessities.
Look at your spending and saving
Figure out where you’re spending your money. Look at fixed costs like rent, loan payments, certain utility bills, car insurance, and life insurance (like your monthly term life insurance payment). Look at your variable costs and leisure spending. What do the numbers look like? How much are you putting into savings every month?
Consider what could make saving easier. If possible, set up automatic withdrawals from your checking to savings every month so you’re saving the amount you want. Consider options like a high-yield savings account that can earn you more interest.
Cut things that don’t bring you joy
Think about whether you enjoy the items that fall into the “wants” category. After all, the point of having a budget is to save for your goals and make room for the things that make you happy. So, if you aren’t using or enjoying something anymore, it makes sense to cut it.
Look at your recurring costs. Maybe there’s a streaming service you’re not using anymore, perhaps you’re paying for a grocery delivery service that doesn’t actually save you time or money. Saving money could be as simple as making a sandwich for work three times a week instead of paying for a mediocre hero.
Have clear goals
Financial goals can seem abstract, especially if you’re trying to save a large sum of money for a big purchase, like a house. Leveling up your budget can be a good time to check in with your financial goals. Are they clear? Do they still make sense for you? Do you feel motivated by them?
Brainstorm ways to remind yourself of why you’re saving—put a home or a car on your vision board. Know roughly how much you want to save every month. Break down big goals into smaller pieces and consider rewarding yourself for each milestone.
Try a waiting period for impulse purchases
If you’re trying to cut discretionary spending, try instituting a waiting period for impulse purchases—whether it’s 24 hours, a week, a month, or simply a rule that you can’t make online purchases after 9 PM, waiting can help you decide if a purchase is a good use of your money. Add things to your online shopping cart or take a picture, then wait to decide whether you really want it.
Reevaluate your budget regularly
Spending habits change, and so does income. What worked for you for half the year won’t necessarily keep working. Build in some time to reexamine your budget and decide what’s working and what isn’t. Make changes, try new things, and celebrate when you hit your financial goals—whatever they are.