Budgeting doesn’t have to be time consuming, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact there are some simple steps that anyone can take to make budgeting easier.
1. Make It a Priority
The first step is simply deciding you are going to start a budget or make a better budget. Decide that getting a handle on your personal finances is a priority. So set aside a little time to start. Try spending five minutes a day or maybe half an hour a week to start out so it’s not overwhelming.
2. Track Your Spending
You can get out a pen and pencil and a stack of bills if you want. This is certainly a good way to track your spending from the past few weeks or months. But don’t be afraid to take shortcuts to make it easier. Use your computer and even your smartphone to make it easier to track your spending. The point is just to get an idea of where your money is going throughout the month.
3. Automate Payments
If you’ve been avoiding budgeting because you are afraid it will take too much time, here’s a nice surprise! Budgeting can actually save you time. Sit down one time and set up automatic bill payments. This will ensure you don’t get hit with late fees in the future and will save you from having to write checks every month.
Many people who are re-focusing on budgeting have a goal in mind. If you are looking to build your emergency fund, hoping to save up for a house or something else, this is a great place to get ahead. Try setting aside a certain amount of money each month to automatically go from your checking account into your savings account. Now try this trick in addition (or instead of if money is really tight). Try moving $5 to $25 a week from your checking to your savings account. Hopefully you won’t even notice and you’ll see your savings start to really accumulate.
4. Build on the Basics
From here, you can get more involved in budgeting. If you identify areas where you are spending more money than you would like, start cutting back. If you want to take a deeper dive into your credit card bills, set aside time to do that. Now that you’ve started, you can build on these budgeting basics however you want. The hardest part is often getting started.
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