I know you are thinking from the title that there is no way you can simplify your budget. Especially if you hate the thought of numbers! If you stick with me in this article, you will see taking some small steps can help you simplify your budget. It can be painless too!
Many people think finances have to be complicated. But that’s just not true. Your budget can be as simple or as complicated as you make it to be! Making your budget as simple as possible will allow you to get a better handle on your finances so that you can focus on matters that are more important. Simplifying your budget can have positive effects on all aspects of your finances by helping you keep everything under control.
Stressing out over your finances is a waste of your time, so let’s make it a point to stop that today, okay?
Follow these 10 steps to make your budget easier for you to work with:
1. Start simple. Like working with spreadsheets? Keeping things in a spreadsheet can simplify your budget significantly. Don’t like spreadsheets? Don’t use them! Set it up however you like that works best for YOU. You can download my free home budget spreadsheet or why not choose a free app like Personal Capital? Personal Capital will pull all your spending in one place so you can take a look and see which categories you are spending your money in. Use the spreadsheet AND Personal Capital together to really amp up your ability to get your finances in order.
Not so high tech? That’s ok, a simple pen and piece of paper can work wonders too. Take what I’ve included in the home budget spreadsheet and just transfer it to paper. This method is a little more tedious but it doesn’t matter what method you choose, Just choose something that works for YOU! No one else is going to take care of your money like you can so you have to make this whole process work for you.
2. Devote 60% to your expenses. The 60% Solution is a budget strategy that entails fitting your expenses into 60% of your income so that you can dedicate the remaining 40% to retirement, debt repayment, short-term and long-term savings, and fun or entertainment expenses.
Take a look at your expenses today, what is your ratio of expenses to saving?
3. Devote 10% (or more) to your retirement. Put 10% (or more) of your gross income toward your retirement, such as in a 401(k) investment plan. Ideally you want to max out your retirement funding every year (currently $18,000) but don’t let that scare you. Contributing something is better than nothing.
Refrain from touching this money for any purpose unless the circumstances are dire.
I hate to say it, but I don’t think most women are focused on this important area of personal finance. I think many women sell themselves short and are waiting for “the” job or Prince Charming to start saving for their future. This is a huge mistake. When you are in charge of your money – you’ll be creating your own destiny for a solid financial future!
It is important to know that you must start to prepare for your financial future now! I’ve been working with women over the past 10 years through this website and this is what I know to be true (note: this is my own observances – I’ve never done an actual study on this but I think you will agree with what I’m saying):
- Most women are unprepared financially due to fear, lack of knowledge or overall disinterest in learning more about their financial situation.
- Most women are not saving for retirement or saving very little (only putting 2-3% of your income in your company sponsored IRA is unlikely to get you to financial freedom!) because they are unsure what to do, think they can’t “afford” to save more or plan to do it later, but later never comes.
- Many people make personal finance harder than it needs to be. It’s really as simple as spend less than you earn and put money aside for your emergency fund and retirement. Many of us have a behavior issue around money (what we do or don’t do with it) and use the excuse that learning personal finance is too hard and continue that behavior.
- Most of our thoughts, ideas and opinions around money formed when we were kids. It’s interesting to see how your parents and other family members felt about money, how they discussed it and felt about it and tie that back to your beliefs around money today.
- What we believe about ourselves and our self-worth plays a huge part in our personal finances. If you don’t believe you deserve it, can keep it or are worth it, you won’t have it.
- You will get old one day and want to retire. The sooner you learn the basics about your personal finances, pay attention to your behavior around money and start to implement positive changes the better off you will be in the long run. Do you want to end up in your 60’s and 70’s with no clue how to manage your money or what to do next? It happens and I hear from these women quite often. You owe it to yourself to invest some time in this area of your life.
Many employers will often match your contributions to a certain percent. If you are not taking advantage of this, you are missing out on free money! Check with your employer TODAY to find out how you can start contributing. Contributing to your 401k will also reduce your taxable income (yay less taxes!). Please don’t miss out on this important piece of your financial picture.
4. Devote 10% to debt repayment and longer-term savings. This one may be hard if you are swimming in debt. That’s why it’s a great idea to pay off your debt as quickly as possible. If you are looking for ways to make extra money, I did a 10 part series on making extra money that ranges from doing odd jobs, renting out your space, starting a side gig, asking for a raise, selling things you already own, cutting back one expenses & a few others like Ebates, Swagbucks, Surveys & Focus Groups, affiliate income that are all very easy to do!Simplifying your budget can have positive effects on all aspects of your finances by helping you keep everything under control.Click To Tweet
5. Devote 10% to your short-term savings. Having an emergency fund is so important if you want to get yourself off the financial merry-go-round of being stuck in the debt cycle. This money is for periodic expenses like medical expenses, auto maintenance and repairs, appliances, birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, and home maintenance costs. Spend this money when you need it, because that is precisely what you’re saving it for. It allows you to pay with cash instead of relying on a credit card for unexpected expenses.
6. Devote 10% to your “fun money.” You can spend this money in any manner that pleases you! Yes that’s right, you don’t have to feel ashamed or bad about spending money! This fun money is guilt-free money that you can spend on movies, entertainment, eating out, a manicure, junk food or anything else that you wish. It’s important to have money set aside to spend on things that bring you joy and are fun, otherwise you will feel like you are working just to survive. There has to be room to have fun to keep yourself motivated for moving ahead with your financial picture.
7. Reduce the number of categories you use. Many budget software programs instruct you to use a hundred different categories or subcategories. As you can see from my free home budget spreadsheet, I do not advocate that. The simpler the better. Personal Capital also does not set you up with hundreds of confusing categories. If you want to simplify your budget, use as few as you can. Rather than having a category for every entry, combine some expenses into a larger category to keep it simple.
8. Pay your bills online. Automate your bill payments as much as possible so that you don’t have to remember to pay your bills every month or buy stamps. Consider automatic bank withdrawals and pay bills online through automatic debit whenever you can. Remember, your goal is to simplify. Make it as easy as you can for yourself and you are more likely to have success.
9. Automate your savings. This is another way to help you simplify AND ensure you meet your savings goals. Every time your paycheck is deposited into your account, have a transaction scheduled that will transfer a specific amount into your savings from your checking. Aim to find a high-yield savings account for this purpose.
10. Keep your fun money in cash form. Take out your 10%, keep it in cash, and use it as you see fit. Watching the cash disappear from your wallet can actually teach you a lot about where the money goes each month! And remember, don’t feel guilty spending this cash. This is what you use to bring more joy in your life, which will make you feel happier and keep you motivated towards your financial goes.
If you investigate, you’ll find numerous techniques to simplify your budget. Do what works well for you! Avoid struggling with a new budget plan because you think it must be better. If it isn’t actually helping you budget, then it’s not the “better” option for your needs. Sometimes simpler is more effective.
Want more help? I have a new course launching called Tame Your Finances & Save $5,000 in the Process to help you even further through these steps!
What steps are you going to take to simplify your budget?