When the time comes for someone to make the decision to start savings money, creating a budget is usually the first step. We see a budget as a way to set goals and prioritization of our money habits to understand what needs to change to ensure we keep to that budget.
In some cases, these changes can involve us shifting the way we spend, while others look to help us focus on what we need and others look to long-term savings. What we fail to consider is that we are already taking the correct steps to save and budget – unfortunately we are making small mistakes that are keeping us from succeeding.
Here are a few tips that can help you get back on track and hit those budget goals.
Long-term vs. Short-term Budgeting: When it comes to managing money, it is natural to do so in monthly increments. We do this, because most of our expenses are based on monthly payments – rent, bills, credit cards. Try creating budget and goals that focus on a year. You will be more likely to plan for unexpected expenses and it helps lower the feeling of failure when we miss monthly budget goals.
Share Your Goals With Friends and Family: Everyone enjoys going out with a friend or family member, the problem is, these individuals may not have the same goals as you and therefore you end up spending when you should be savings. Share your goals and make sure people around you know you have a plan. That way you feel confident when the need to turn down an offer arises. They may also offer tips and opportunities to help you meet your goals as well.
Managing Debt, Not all Debt is Bad: Having debt is not always a bad thing, as long as you manage it correctly. Though you may not need to go into debt today, make sure to keep you long-term goals in mind. If you plan to go back to school to hone your skills or have plans of buying your first-home, carrying debt that you can financially pay off will help you build the credit you need to keep your interest fees on future loans low. In the end this will help keep monthly payments at a level that is manageable.
Invest for Retirement: Take advantage of any opportunity to saving for the future. Savings for a stable retirement is becoming harder to reach each year. This is why it is important to begin saving for today. You may feel that you need the money now, but not taking advantage of company 401(k) or other options that earn you free money is a step backwards when looking long-term to your future retirement.
Starting Earning Money on the Side: There are probably a number of skills that you offer that you give away for free everyday. Earning an extra couple hundred dollars a month, will really help you meet your long-term goals. Try looking for opportunities to apply these skills (speak another language, math tutor) by checking out the service section on job boards such as Craigslist.
Always Plan to Owe for Tax Season: To often I see people rely on their tax returns for pay off debt or cover bills. Make sure to check at the beginning of the year or whenever you have a life-changing event (i.e. Getting Married) to ensure you are paying the right amount of taxes. If you are someone who does earn money outside of their normal day-to-day job, plan on owing, as you probably haven’t paid taxes on that income yet.
Reward Yourself: While some of these tips may force you to change your money habits, never forget to reward yourself. I am a strong believer in enjoying live and treating ourselves once a month, will not only keep us from becoming discouraged, but also give us a chance to have fun with the money we have saved.
About the author:
Alex Matjanec is the co-founder of www.mybanktracker.com, an easy-to-use web portal that lets consumers rate and review banks, compare interest rates and learn more about the savings and investment options to best meet their goals.