Budgeting Tips for Non-Budgeters
Get budgeting advice you can actually use to increase your savings
Many people view starting a budget like a trip to the dentist: You know it's best for you, but your day would be so much better if you could just skip it. Perhaps all you're missing is the right motivation. When you work to stay within a budget, you can pocket your savings in a separate account that could someday pay for an emegency fund, new TV or even your own home. Of course, you have to start small, but try following these budgeting tips to get yourself started. And, remember to keep your eye on the big picture.
1. Do some simple math to start your budget
First, add up your monthly income. Include your salary, investments, money you might get from rental properties or odd jobs, and anything else that puts money in your pocket. Then, add up your monthly expenses, including housing, utilities, groceries, insurance, credit card payments, car payments, tuition bills, loans and anything else you pay. Subtract that from your income, and see where that leaves you.
If you're in negative numbers, look at your expenses and see where you can trim back. If your grocery bill averages $250, trim it back to $220 — you won't even notice the difference. The entertainment budget is also a good place to make cuts. If you go out for one less dinner in a month, it might save you $50 or more, depending on your tastes and size of the party you treat. If you're looking for additional areas to save, try eliminating your cable service and start watching shows over the web.
2. Set a savings goal
Now that you've made some planned adjustments on spending, set a goal. Whether you want to save for an emergency fund, buy a new computer, or take a vacation, determine how much you'll need to save. Then, keep your goal and your progress front and center so you stay within budget: stick it on the refrigerator, program a reminder in your cell phone to pop up daily, sign up with a website that helps you reach your savings goal. Do whatever you have to make sure you stick to the plan. GoalTrack Savings from Citizens Bank is an easy plan that can help you stay on track.
3. Make daily strides with these budgeting tips
Looking at your monthly expenses as a whole may seem overwhelming or even discouraging. But, there are plenty of things you can do on a daily basis to cut your spending and increase your savings. Try out some of this budgeting advice to see how much more you can save. You can also find more budgeting tips here.
- Have a 'don't spend' day: Pick just one day a week to not spend any money. Don't stop for coffee, go out for lunch, pick up dinner, buy a new jacket, rent a movie or buy new music. Then, send all that money directly into your savings.
- Pick one area where you can save: If you haven't been able to stick to a comprehensive budget in the past, pick one area to focus on. For example, take entertainment. If you spent $400 last month on dinner with friends, happy hour with co-workers, and movies and concerts with your spouse, lower your budget to $300. Then, figure out where you can comfortably cut back. Do you need to see Jimmy Buffet again? Can you have your friends over to cook rather than dine out?
- Cut your bills: If you can find a way to save a little money on bills you've been paying, reward yourself by stashing those savings into a savings account rather than spending them. For example, consider switching to a cheaper Internet or cell phone plan. Program your thermostat to use less energy when you're not home.
4. Start a savings account with Citizens Bank
Hopefully you're inspired to stay within budget and increase your savings. The next step is to open a separate savings account. Depositing your savings in a checking account may leave you tempted to spend it rather than keep it. Explore our many high-yield savings accounts or contact a Citizens Bank customer care representative at 1-877-360-2472 to get started.