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Two Tips for Successful Budgeting
The second installment in my budgeting series, two more tips for successful budgeting. We all know that the key to being successful with money is having a budget. Budgeting, in a nutshell, simply tells your money where to go. It’s a far better option than looking at your bank statements at the end of the month, wondering where your money went. That being said, there are two tips for successful budgeting that are rarely talked about.
If you’re brand new to budgeting, make sure to check out my post: Budgeting 101: How to start a budget.
Rigid budgets rarely work. In general, no two months are exactly the same. This is what I love about using YNAB (You Need a Budget.) One of YNAB’s “rules” is rolling with the punches. This means that you may have to move your budget around, and that’s okay. It took me a while to understand this concept, but once you get it, it makes budgeting less stressful.
You may have extra money in the gas category one month, but have overspent on clothes. That’s okay! Just move the money over and go on with life. You can do this on a paper budget, but I like using YNAB because it’s very easy to change money between categories. If you aren’t using a budgeting software, you can get 34 days of YNAB absolutely free using my link. I’ve been using YNAB for about 5 years, and although I’ve tried other things, I keep going back! You can read my full review of You Need a Budget here.
For me, being flexible in the budget has removed a lot of the stress that tends to come from budgeting. Another key is to remember that successful budgeting takes time. You won’t remember everything the first month, and it may take a few months to really get into the swing of things. The important thing is to do your best, stay flexible, and remember your goals.
#2. Having some fun (money)
The second of my two tips for successful budgeting is “fun money.” Different people call it different things: spending money, fun money, blow money (but let’s not call it that.) No matter what you call it, having some fun money in the budget is important. No matter how strict your budget, it needs to fit in there. Whether it’s $5 or $100, having some fun money in the budget will help you stay on track.
This may seem counter-productive to budgeting, but it’s actually the opposite. Having a little fun money gives you a sense of freedom. This is particularly important if you (or a partner) feel like budgeting is rigid or keeping you from having any fun.
Bonus tip: Goal setting
This wasn’t one of my original tips for successful budgeting, but it may actually be the most important. Setting goals is hugely important for budgeting success. There needs to be a reason why you’re doing a budget. Your goals will be very specific to you and your life. Do you want to travel more? Send your kids to college? Get a handle on overspending on food/clothes/crap? Whatever your goals, big or small, write them down.
Another reason that I like YNAB (and I promise, this isn’t sponsored!) is the goal setting feature. Whether you’re funding a new car, a vacation, or new clothes, it can be fun and rewarding to reach your goal.
I wanted to share a few screenshots to show how savings goals are set up. I did white out a few things for the sake of privacy. 🙂 You can have as many savings goals as you’d like, and the table on the right shows your progress.
Here is a closer look at the table on the right. You can see your progress, your goal, and how long YNAB estimates it will take you to reach it. One of my favorite features is that you can purchase things with money designated for the goal, but it doesn’t change the goal. This means that I can start Christmas shopping in August without messing up the goal. Savvy moms, you know what I am talking about, don’t you?? Again, if you’d like to try it for yourself, use my link to get 34 days free (no credit card required.) Even if you are using another system or a paper budget, goals are important. Make sure to set measurable, reasonable goals, and write them down!
What are you’re best tips for successful budgeting? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. If you’re enjoying this budgeting series, let me know! Want more money saving tips as well as all things life balance for moms on a budget, make sure to subscribe to my weekly emails!