Budget: The dreaded “b” word

A budget is very important to help save money and keep your finances on track. I want to be able to help out any way I can, but this topic is going be extremely hard for me to get technical with. Budget is the dreaded “b” word to me. I’m confessing now, I am NOT a numbers person at all, I do not like budgets and I have NEVER had a monthly budget. I couldn’t even make it through the task of figuring out my family’s income vs. spending for a month. I totally lost interest and everything went in the trash.

However, I have used some practices that help keep my family finances pretty healthy during the last two and a half decades. They are simple, they work, that’s why I like them, even without a monthly budget.

One-stop shop.
Keep all of your finances at one institution. Most places now have Online and Mobile Banking tools that give you a great overview of what’s in your account(s). Many systems let you pay bills, view a budget with your actual numbers and set up alerts to let you know when accounts are low. Keeping your finances all in one place give the “big picture” of money coming in vs. money going out that advisors tell you to calculate on paper or a spreadsheet.

Live within your means.
I think I inherited this from my parents because I always remember being this way. After I got my first high school job, I only bought what I could pay for in cash. I keep track of my family finances now, and we practice that today. If we don’t have the money to pay for it, we wait until we can. If we have to charge something, we make sure it can be paid off at the end of the month. I don’t ever remember having a credit card with a balance on it.

Use cash (if it helps you visualize).
If you can witness your hard-earned cash leaving your hands, you can easily see how much is being spent. I did this for my first couple jobs. I would give myself an “allowance” each week for gasoline, movies, dining out, etc. When that cash was gone, I had to stop buying until my next paycheck came around.

You can also write things down instead of using cash. If it’s difficult to access your cash, or you simply don’t want to, you can use your debit card and write down expenses. Using a register or notebook to log all of your purchases will give you an idea where your expenses are going.

Bargain shop.
I like to think I also inherited this from my parents. They are always on the lookout for a great bargain — they taught me to be patient and wait for whatever it is I want to buy to also go on sale. There is also such a thing as convincing someone to lower the purchase price. Many people know they can work with a salesperson when purchasing a vehicle, but a lot of us don’t know we can attempt to bargain with salespeople on other prices. I’m happy to say I have tried to get the salesperson to lower prices on both TVs and an oven and have had some luck!

Obviously everyone is not going to structure their monthly budget in the same way, I hope my ideas spark some ways that you would like to keep your budget financially healthy. Let us know your budget strategy ideas in the comments below.