I personally love the phrase “I have too much month at the end of my money”: it probably makes me sound a bit sadistic but I think it serves as a pretty good warning sign for me on being too frisky with my monthly budget. Let’s be honest, overspending is something we have all been exposed to in some raucous form or another. For some, it’s a minor bump as they manage to make do but for others well, it’s unpaid bills and tantrums before the end of the month.
The funny thing is that we do this all over again. Having suffered a tough month, we proceed to spend the money in the same frivolous way as if expecting something different this time. You can, of course, blame capitalists for marketing things you do not need so well, but hey, they cannot make you spend the money if you do not walk into the store almost blindfolded. I am not here to rip on marketers, though. Do a bit of foresight and most of your budgeting nightmares can be hushed away as simply as if they never existed. Don’t believe me? Well take a look.
Write and write!
Let’s start with the simple bit first. Noting down your budget is important and powerful. You know what they say about a written sign serving as a powerful reminder? Well, that’s what writing down what you can spend, does. Now there are plenty of ways of noting down the budget, but the best way is to keep track of all expenditures (little or big) and keep piling them up so that you know your limit. Spreadsheet software obviously goes a long way in assuring efficiency but for now, the habit is important. Your memory may be excellent but money records are better kept on paper, that’s how accountancy evolved you know.
Do not look back
This one needs to be explained better I suppose. A lot of us are in the habit of making our expenditures and then noting them all down at the end of the month, seeing what they amount to and then subtracting them from our total allocated. This can serve you well if you are in practice of saving and have an excellent numerical memory however for most this is simply an impending disaster. Most of us are not attuned to be that good at mathematics and most of us cannot keep track of every amount
we have worked with. Round approximations don’t do the trick here.
It’s better much better if you are making note of all your transactions before you actually spend any money. Allocate 500$ for gas, 150$ for food etc. and then make your purchases accordingly. If you note it, it serves as a reminder and tells you to stay within a certain spending limit for the said item. Preemptive, but highly effective and it allows you to have extra say in your savings.
Change your buying trends
Like any good businessman, there is no point in keeping track of what you spend if that information is not bringing about any change in your behavior. If your need for gasoline is 300$ for a month: look for ways in which you can bring it down rather than keeping it stagnant. Always keep a check on any available discount that might save you some dollars. Getting yourself some coupon codes for your must-have items
would do no harm. Similarly, there’s no point in buying or importing heavy duty equipment when you have the same available in the local market that is slightly used. Effective budgeting is when you can even decrease a dollar from a regular expense and put it into savings. After all the goal is to ensure that you spend less than you earn and try to save even in that. No, this does not mean that you start ignoring your needs. Remember there is a huge difference between being stingy and thrifty.
Be mindful of plastic
While debit card spending can help you keep track of where your money went in what amount. Having less cash on hand does make us superfluous about spending it. This is not a hardcoded reality per se, but generally, people are a lot more careful about their money when they have it in cash with them. Whereas “there’s plenty more where that came from” mindset takes over when you are purely and always dealing with debit or credit cards.
Remember, with all the planning you will still have unforeseen expenses such as loan annuities, car rentals, insurance premiums that may or may, not strain you at the end of the month but an organized budget helps you to be better prepared for such expenses. Keep those notebooks ticking but keep the wallet whirring. Happy spending!
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