What are some tips you've picked up over the years to help you budget successfully? Share these if you think it could help others to budget or save more successfully.
I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination but I've learned a number of things over the years that I'd wished I had learned sooner. Here are some of the things I've found work for me:
1) Make up an Excell spreadsheet monthly budget with expected minimum costs each month for a whole year in advance-include food and entertainment as well as fixed costs such as: mortgage/rent, bank fees, insurance, tv, Internet, phone, day care, electricity, heat, gasoline, transit, subscriptions, savings, vehicle registration. Have the total of each months expected costs at the bottom of the column. Recognize that some months will require much more money than others. Having a budget helps you to truly understand where your money is going and how much you need each month to pay your minimal bills. It also helps you to identify areas where you might be paying too much. Finally it helps you see how much extra money you have each month to buy or save for things that you want or may need in the future.
2) Update your budget regularly as you get paid and receive your bills. Learn to know exactly where your money is going.
3) Be sure that both partners in a relationship know all of this information. You may need to each have a separate budget but even if that's the case it's wise to share your budget with one another. Understand that what you think is a priority they may disagree with and vice versa. Come to some kind of compromise.
4) Include savings (or debt payment plan) on your budget as part of your monthly expenses.
5) Get a credit report history and score for both partners once a year or so.
6) See if your employer has a plan that can take money off your cheque BEFORE you get it
7) I make up a want list. On this list I have a break down of virtually everything I want and/or would dream to have in the next 5 years or so. I have separate categories for things such as home, fitness, vehicle, clothing, sports, education, health, savings or debt pay off and then I prioritize this list. I will highlight things I want asap and darken things I'd like to have before too long. Seeing this list written down (mine is on my iPad) helps to prevent spur of the moment purchases. If for example I see something I'd like that is over $20 I ask myself if it's on my list and if not then I ask myself it it's really more important that something that's on my list. This has helped me immensely to reduce spur of the moment purchases. I regularly review my want list and add or remove items, change the priorities rankings and just generally remind myself what I think is important. Knowing what you want ahead of time and regularly reviewing it has the added benefit of keeping you on the lookout for the cost of the things you want and potential discounts of those items.
8) Have your partner make a want/dream list.
9) If I want to buy something sooner than my budget had planned I work hard to cut down my monthly budget. I may for example try to reduce my food budget by eating more pasta or making sure I take a drink and snack with me when I go shopping so I don't buy any drinks or food while out. Because I am on a salary it's easier to plan my budget ahead of time but more challenging if I want to buy something sooner than planned. I've not always been on a salary and found it even more important to budget if not on a salaried income.