So a down to the penny budget isn’t for you?
Maybe like me you have learned that if you track every penny it just causes anxiety?
No problem, there are lots of ways you can incorporate budgeting into your life without having to do have a full budget. Here are 4 ideas for you.
Only budget the problem areas:
Maybe after a little tracking you discover that most of your disposable income is going towards just a few major areas, clothing and dinning out for example. Instead of tracking all your money in every category possible set a budget for those 2 areas and track JUST THEM! One word of warning though be careful this doesn’t lead to frivolous spending in other categories. A good idea would be to keep something like Mint.com (see below for other tracking ideas) running and check in once a month or so make sure you haven’t simply started spending all of your money in a different category, like coffee….coffee is good. 🙂
Bills and savings only:
Start by tracking all of your bills (including ones you only pay quarterly or yearly.) Once you know how much that is per month transfer that amount in to its own separate account. Transfer a set savings amount into your savings (many employers that offer direct deposit will split your check for you.) Whatever is left in your account is yours to spend! The key to this one is to have a little padding in all the accounts and to factor in the bills you don’t pay monthly, make sure you are saving a portion for those each month so your ready when they come in.
After tracking your spending for a while pick a few areas that need reigning in and use cash for those areas. Pull some out each check and use that for groceries, dining out, clothes…whatever. The fun to this one is if you don’t spend it all one month you can easily splurge the next month, the money is already in your wallet!
This one is definitely the least involved, however that doesn’t mean it can’t be powerful. Sign up for a tracking service like Mint.com (this is the one I use personally I am NOT affiliated I’ll link below to some other options) and then set your calendar to check in on it every week or so. By simply seeing where your money is spent you can make adjustments to your habits.
What Do I do?
Personally we do a mix of these, our savings and money for bigger expenses (home/car repair and gifts) is transferred automatically to a separate account. I use Mint to track the problem areas and I keep a running tally of our bills to make sure I know how much we need in our account to pay for those. Everything else in our account is ours to spend.
*This is not an endorsement for these products and I take no personal responsibility for your experience with them. As with everything money related make sure you do your research.