There are not many words that can cause as much dread as that dirty little six letter word “budget”. The very sound of it can bring about thoughts of tightening the belt, going without and heated money conversations around the dinner table.
But despite its bad reputation, to balance mortgages, car loans, school fees and rising living expenses, a budget is a necessity to ensure your bills are paid, debts are minimised, and savings are maximised.
Now don’t panic, this is not a post about spreadsheets (although they do work well for many) and we’re not about to call you in for a money intervention. Instead, we’re going to look at ideas to help you budget your money when you’re not the budgeting kind.
When we look at the purpose of a budget, it is to help you manage your money smartly and to make sure that you are living within your means. It also helps you to put money away for those important life events – buying a home or renovating, purchasing a car, going on holiday, investing or just making a purchase you really desire. All the benefits you want, right?
So what are some low effort money management tips that will generate you high returns? Here are three to get you started.
Have a designated bill account
Want a set and forget option for bill paying? Then have a designated bills account. The first step is to work out all of your regular bills and when they need to be paid. Next, set up an automatic transfer every week, fortnight or month (depending on when your income comes in) that transfers the portion of your income needed to cover your bills.
Then, it’s a matter of setting up direct debits or automatic payments for your bills so they can be paid without you having to think about it and whatever is in your everyday account is free for spending on anything extra. Remember to schedule them a few days before the due date though to avoid late fees!
Now a word to the wise, it does pay to keep an eye on your bill account to make sure you are being charged the right amount and are getting any discounts you deserve – so don’t completely forget about it! Also, keep in mind that some bills will go up at the start of the year or end of financial year so you will want to revisit your payments at these times to make allowances for this.
Set up an automatic fund transfer for savings
Are you someone who gets tempted to spend when you have money in your account? Or do you find any extra seems to get sucked into the vortex of everyday life?
Then we recommend setting up a separate savings account without a debit card attached and organise an automatic funds transfer that immediately debits your account once your income comes in.
This will ensure your savings aren’t eaten up in everyday expenses or impulse buys and it will give you some extra time to exercise self-control by having to transfer money out of your savings account before you can spend it.
If you do have debt with high-interest rates like a credit card or personal loan, then consider putting your savings money towards these to get them paid off sooner as they will continue to cost you money in interest.
Pay yourself in cash
Ask any successful investor or financial advisor, and they will all tell you the importance of paying yourself first. You’ve worked hard after all and rewarding yourself will keep you motivated. Our only recommendation is that you keep it within your means – and pay yourself in cash.
Research has shown that when we pay in cash, we are far more conservative when it comes to spending money. We can see it going. This will help you be more conscious of how you are spending your money. If you find it works for you, you might even like to take the same approach to grocery shopping.
Over to you, what habits or tips do you have to manage your money smartly?