Budgeting. We’ve all tried it at some point or have procrastinated about it long enough to almost try it but why don’t we give it one final go?
How to be on a budget
Spend less than you earn.
I’m back next Sunday…
I’m being facetious but I’m making the point that budgeting is not that difficult, as long as you follow that one golden rule.
It is no different from trying to lose weight – burn more calories than you consume.
But why is 28% of Britain’s population obese?! …. Because trying to adhere to a fixed regime (or in the context of this post, a fixed budget) is hardddd.
We all know it is difficult to stick on a budget, especially if it is a tight budget but what helped me is I found my ‘why’. Why am I budgeting?
Find your reason why and next time, before you tap that contactless card, ask yourself if that thing you’re about to buy is an intentional spend or just something you want, rather than need.
Why is budgeting important?
We are like magpies, we like shiny new things.
Whether it is saving up for a new car, a new house or working out a strategy to pay down debt – we require enough money after we’ve spent it on rent, bills, food, petrol and other essentials to pay for it.
Without keeping track of your monthly living expenses, how can you possibly work out how much you need to save each month to attain your goal?
Now, I fancy myself as a budget analyst and I like to get ‘down into the weeds’ with my expenses with my google sheets monthly budget, however, I have finally learnt to appreciate that not everyone is a nerd like me.
How to budget
The simpler, the better.
First of all, do not change your spending habits after reading this but instead just track your typical monthly expenses for one month so you get an accurate idea of what goes in and out of your account.
A monthly tracker or even your Monzo card very cleverly categorises your spending so you know how much you spend in each sector.
Once you have a rough idea of what your weekly grocery budget is, how much you spend on alcohol or extra-curricular activities etc (not a lot sadly, since COVID) then you can in the following month work on cutting out unnecessary spending.
When I first started doing this and quite literally logged everything I spent I quickly noticed a pattern forming and what my unnecessary expenses were.
For example, if you can afford to replace it – do not insure it.
I got rid of my phone insurance, other gadget insurances and also stopped buying lunches in the hospital that was charging me £5 every lunchtime.
Repeat this for a few more months to help you identify your own patterns and weaknesses!
Reassess your finances.
I do mine monthly but for most people, who actually have fun in life, they choose to do it every 6 months or annually.
It does not matter when you do it; as long as you do it.
Something to also bear in mind.
If you get a bonus or pay rise, do not then increase your expenses to match that new salary otherwise at year end you’ll be wondering why you’re the same (or worse off) despite having a job promotion.
People become financially more secure by living within their means and putting any extra cash into savings or better still, investing it (watch this space for future blog posts on this subject matter).
General rule of Thumb
Income tax is set up by the Government’s PAYE (pay as you earn) system so whatever reaches your account on pay day is your salary for that month after tax.
The remainder in your bank account should now be divided into approximately:
60% – going towards your essential expenses (mortgage payments/rent, food, bills, other debt repayments etc) and,
40% – to do whatever the hell you like with it. It is your money after all!
So what do you do with that 40%?
I evidently need to get out more because I could spend days talking about this subject, but rest assured I will be taking a much deeper dive into budgeting in the next series of blog posts.
That slice of 40% should then be split up further into:
Everyone needs to live a little so each month I allocate myself an amount I can splurge on anything of my choice.
Next, I invest a portion of my money that I am not going to need for 5 years or more.
Lastly, I put aside the remaining slice of money into a savings account that I will need within the next 5 years.
I have covered a hell of a lot here and only scratched the surface but this is a very passionate subject of mine (….can you tell?) so will cover each of these topics above in more detail in the following weeks.
1. Do not change anything and track next month’s spending habits to really see where your money goes
2. Then identify any patterns emerging and perhaps some unnecessary expenses that you can cull
WEEKLY HEALTH FACT:
Each organ in your body has its own circadian rhythm. When it is approaching night time, your digestive system is one of the first organs to go to sleep, which is why it is recommended you eat 2 hours before bed so your gut has time to process the food.
Goodbye midnight snacks!!!
I have found a new subject matter that I am passionate about and as I learn, I want to share with others along the way so we can all become more financially aware and secure together.
This is not financial advice but merely an education platform for ordinary people to understand concepts that Wall Street makes us think are too complicated to understand!