Advertising
Advertising

5 Budgeting Hacks for 2017

5 Budgeting Hacks for 2017

It is a new year and that means new goals and renewed dreams. Most people split their goals into a few different categories, and inevitably there is always one category about money and budgeting.

Budgeting definitely has a negative connotation to it. Who wants to limit what they buy and not have everything they want? However, budgeting has been proven in multiple studies to help people feel more in control of their life. In fact, people that stick to a budget tend to be happier than those that don’t.

Advertising

Here are a few hacks that may assist you as you prepare this year’s budget.

1. Apps

There are dozens of interesting and unique budgeting apps out there. Some are more well known, like Mint, while others provide a similar service, but are tweaked for different kinds of people. These apps are designed to help people create a budget, and then to keep track of where all of their money is going. If you create a budget, but do not continually watch it and monitor it, you are more likely to go off track.

Advertising

It doesn’t matter which app you choose, but if you would like to stick to a budget in 2017, a budgeting app is a great way to get started.

2. Save on food

Most people do not realize what a large part of their income they spend on food. While food is essential to survive, we often purchase extras that are exorbitantly more expensive than they need to be. One habit that many budgeters have is called freezer meals. All you need to make these is something called vacuum sealers. With a vacuum sealer you can plan out meals for weeks in advance. Then you can make them all and seal them up in freezer bags. Once you have the sealer, it is only 25 cents to purchase a bag for sealing. Most families report huge savings once they go this way. For one, this allows you to purchase bulk food, which is always cheaper. The second way this tends to save money is it limits how much a family eats out.

Advertising

3. Save

Do not make the mistake of planning on spending all of your income in a budget. Instead try to save at least 10 percent of everything you make each month. Try to put half of that money towards retirement and half towards a rainy day fund. Something will always come up that is outside of your budget and this will help you to be prepared for that moment.

4. Tell people

There is something about accountability that makes people do better at everything. Budgeting is no different. If you are setting a personal budget, then tell your close friends and family members. If you are setting a budget as a family, then hold yourselves accountable to each other. Try to make sure the people that you spend money most often with are aware of your budget limitations so they are not constantly trying to get you to spend money with them. Chances are good that you may inspire them to start budgeting as well!

Advertising

5. Don’t give up

Something will invariably come up and you will have months where you do not stick to the budget. This is life. Do not let one bad month ruin your budgeting inspiration forever. Stick through the bad times and the good times will feel even better. Remember, it has been proven multiple times that budgeting brings long-term happiness, even more than money, which most studies show is barely linked to happiness.

Enjoy budgeting! As you control your life, you will feel good. Some day when you are perhaps making more than you do now, you will look back on the budgeting years with fondness.

More by this author

Spencer Mecham

Personal Finance Coach, Digital Marketer

addiction 4 Hacks for Overcoming Addiction careers Five Careers That Don’t Require a College Degree budgeting 4 Ways to Make Every Penny Stretch in 2017 4 Ways To Prepare for Retirement diabetes 4 Useful Tips for Living a Normal Life with Diabetes

Trending in Budget Activity

1 6 Easy Ways to Treat Yourself 2 7 Websites to Sell Used Stuff Profitably 3 Seven Tips to Save Money While Renovating Your Home 4 4 Ways to Make Every Penny Stretch in 2017 5 Getting Out of Debt in 4 Simple Steps

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on June 1, 2020

How to Pay off Debt Fast Using the Stack Method (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Pay off Debt Fast Using the Stack Method (A Step-By-Step Guide)

Whether it’s consumer debt on credit cards, student loans[1], or a mortgage, most people find themselves weighed down by debt at some point in their lives. This can keep us working jobs we hate just to pay the bills and keep our heads above water. By learning how to pay off debt fast, you can release this burden and remove some of the stress from your life.

The Stack Method is one way to do this. Once you understand it, you too can learn how to pay off debt fast.

What Is the Stack Method?

The Stack Method, often referred to as “debt stacking,” requires making a list of all your sources of debt, starting with the debts that incur the highest interest. Then, you make the minimum payments for each source of debt, but when any extra money comes your way, you throw it at the debt at the top of the list. This way, you eliminate the debts with the most interest first, dropping extra costs to a manageable level in a fairly short amount of time.

To get started with the Stack Method, go through these steps and overcome those mountains of debt today.

1. Stop Creating New Debt

Most people do not receive training in handling money and how to live within their means. If you’re in debt, then you’re probably one of these people, and it’s time to bite the reality bullet.

It’s going to be impossible to get out of debt unless you retrain your financial habits right now.

You must make a stand against all the marketers trying to take your hard earned money or offering easy finance. You don’t need more stuff to make you happy. What you need is financial peace of mind.

Advertising

So cut up your credit cards or freeze them. I mean this literally. Put them in a container of water and stash them in your freezer. Then, when there’s an opportunity to spend, you have time to thaw out (you and the credit cards) and really decide if you need that purchase.

2. Rank Your Debt by Interest Rate

Make a list of all your debt with amounts and the interest rate. The highest interest rate should be at the top as this is what you’ll pay off first.

Paying off your high interest debt is the key to the Stack Method.

Interest is a powerful weapon, and right now the bank or other financial institutions are using it against you. Interest significantly increases the amount you need to pay back, and often we’re completely unaware of how much that is.

For example, if you have a $10,000 credit card debt at 20% interest where you pay a minimum payment of $200 a month, you will end up taking 9 years and 8 months to pay off the actual amount of $21,680 including $11,680 in interest!

3. Lower Your Interest Rates

You can often lower your credit card interest rates by doing a balance transfer. This means moving your credit card to another bank, where they will lower the interest rate to get your business[2].

Shop around and try to get the lowest interest rate for the longest duration (preferably until it’s paid off completely). Just make sure you’re reading the terms and conditions carefully so you don’t get stung by the new bank in other ways.

Advertising

Once you’ve done this, you can order your list of debt again if interest rates have shifted.

4. Create a Strategic Spending Plan

This is where we improve your financial control from Step 1. Take a piece of paper and write down your income after tax and all the expenses that you have. This will include the minimum payments on all your debt.

Look at your expenses, and then rank them in order of importance to you. Look at the items on the bottom of your list and decide whether you’d rather have them or be financially stable. The objective is to create a spending  plan where your expenses are lower than your income.

You also decide how much you are willing to spend on each area of your life. You can allocate amounts for rent, groceries, eating out, buying clothes, and other activities. However, realize that once you’ve spent your allocated money, there’s no dipping into other areas[3].

It also helps to have a “Fun Account” that you can spend on what you like, and an “Emergencies Account” in case your car breaks down or other unfortunate incidents come up.

You also want to include the extra amount you’re going to use to pay off debt in your spending plan.

Can you afford $20 a week? $50? $100? $200 or more? It’s important that you get a realistic number that you can commit to each week without fail, and this is your Stack Repayment.

Advertising

5. Create a Payment Schedule

The first part of the Stack Method is to cover the minimum payment on every single debt you have. Any time you miss a payment, you incur fees, and these add up quickly. This also includes making the minimum payment on the debt with the highest interest rate.

Then for the debt with the highest interest rate (your Target Debt), you’re going to add the Stack Repayment from your strategic spending plan. You apply this Stack Repayment and the minimum payment until that debt is paid off in full.

As your official minimum payment decreases, you add that extra amount to your Stack Repayment. So, as your minimum repayment drops, your Stack Repayment increases equally. This will compound how fast you pay off the Target Debt by adding even more to the payments you’re making.

6. Reward Your Progress

You want to track your Target Debt so you can see your progress along the way. You can also decide on milestones that you’re going to celebrate and reward yourself for.

A reward doesn’t have to cost money, but if it does then it comes from your previously allocated spending plan.

This is an important step as it will keep your motivation going when you feel your willpower fading.

Just like you’ve trained yourself to brush your teeth and shower, you can train yourself to manage your money. Feel great that you’re now entering the 10-20% of people who are actually responsible with money.

Advertising

7. Compound Your Results

Once you pay off your Target Debt, have a huge celebration and congratulate yourself. Then, you move the Stack Repayment (which includes the previous minimum payment now) to the next debt with the highest interest rate.

This becomes the new Target Debt, and you are using your Stack Repayment amount plus the minimum payment for the new debt.

This is why the Stack Method is so powerful. As you decrease a debt, you actually increase your Stack Repayment amount. This means the second debt will get paid off even faster, the third even faster than that, and so on and so on until you are completely debt free.

8. Be Kind to Yourself

During this process, your resolve is going to be tested multiple times. Maybe you’ll have an emergency like your car breaking down or the need to travel for a sick relative. The important thing is to not throw up your hands in despair and slipping back into your old habits.

Life will test your commitment to your new responsible money attitude, and it’s up to you how you respond. When things go wrong (and I guarantee they will), you need to shrug it off and get back on track.

Show compassion when you accidentally go over your target spending amount and decide to do better next week.

The Bottom Line

The Stack Method is a powerful tool, but it’s up to you whether you use it effectively. If you really want results, then bookmark this article immediately and start working through the steps.

It’s only by the decision you make right now that you will enjoy a debt-free future and live a financially responsible life.

More Tips on How to Pay off Debt Fast

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next