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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Spencer Mecham

Personal Finance Coach, Digital Marketer

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Last Updated on April 3, 2019

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

Debt is never a fun thing to be in. But, there are many actions that you can take that will help you rid yourself of the burden of debt once and for all.

By coming up with a set plan, eliminating your debt can feel much easier than constantly thinking about it.

This post will provide some tips on how you can do this to help you nix your credit card debt in less than 3 years.

Hint: there are ways that are easier than you think.

1. Consider Consolidating Multiple Credit Cards If Possible

This may not be applicable to you, but if you have multiple cards – it is something to consider. Keeping up with multiple bills is time consuming.

It will depend on the balance you have on each. Consolidate ones you can but do not do it to the point that you get too close to the maximum limit. Also, it is ideal to pick the card with the lower interest rate.

Consider if there are any fees or alternatively, rewards, with transferring a balance to another card. Watch out for fees. Note that some cards offer rewards for transferring a balance to them. This is extra cash that can help go towards paying off your debt.

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Having one or two cards can make nixing your debt much simpler than keeping up with the balance of a bunch of cards. Keeping track of paying the minimum towards a bunch of cards is time consuming. Spend the time to consolidate instead to make the overall process simpler going forward.

My tip: Have one main credit card. Have a second one that you use for necessities – such as groceries or gas – that offers rewards for those purchases (a lot of cards do) and set the second one on auto-pay. You should be able to pay off a smaller amount on auto-pay if it is a necessity. If you think you cannot, then you may need to cut down a lot on expenses.

Why do I suggest doing this? Having one thing set to auto-pay is one less thing to think about. One less thing to waste time on. Same idea with consolidating to one main card. Tracking down too many is a hassle.

2. Try to Pay the Full Balance You Spent Each Month at the Very Least

You need to pay off the amount you are spending each month when that bill comes in. This is the amount you spent THAT month.

Do not let the debt keep accruing while you work on paying any unpaid debt that has accrued. It will become a never-ending battle. Try as best as you can to be current on paying for each month’s expenses when that month’s bill comes out.

If this is a strain, consider why. You may need to cut expenses. Or you may need to consider other cards. Or look at where this money is going.

3. Pay Extra When You Can – Every Small Amount Counts

This cannot be emphasized enough. If you are looking at a lot of credit card debt, it can look daunting, but each extra amount that you can put towards the debt will really add up – no matter how small it is.

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It does not just reduce the principal amount that you have left to pay off, but it reduces the amount that is collecting interest. You will always save money with that reduced interest.

4. Create a Plan on How to Pay Extra

Back to the main point, having this plan is giving you one less thing to think about.

This plan should be a plan that works for you. If it does not work for you, your spending habits, and your views on debt, then it will not be an effective plan.

For instance, if a set plan of an extra $50 (or another amount that you know you can afford) works for you, then do that. Set that aside every month and pay that extra amount. Treat it like a bill. Choose an amount that works for you and pay it like clockwork as though it was a bill you had to pay each month.

Little amounts will not nix it entirely, but they will help tackle it and having a set plan can make it less of a chore. Creating a new plan of how much to put towards it each month is an unnecessary added stress.

5. Cut out Costs for Services You Do Not Use

If you are signed up for subscriptions that you do not use because of some free trial or for some other reason, cut it out. Your overall financial position will look better.

In turn, that will make cutting your credit card debt easier. Look at your statements to find these expenses. If you do not use them, you may forget you are paying some unnecessary amount each month. Cutting it out can really add up in savings that you can put towards other needed expenses.

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6. Get Aggressive About It

Consider these points:

Depending on the interest and the level of debt, you may need to give up a few indulgences. For example, instead of ordering delivery or going out to eat, cook at home. Everything adds up.

Other things may be more of a sacrifice. It may be a trip you wanted to go on, or a daily latte habit you’ve picked up. In these instances, consider how important it is to you and if it’s worth the sacrifice. And if it is a costly expense, think whether you can wait to indulge.

Cutting an extravagant expense can really help make a dent in your overall debt. Try not to add to debt when you are trying to pay it off. It will be a never-ending battle. Make it less of a battle with these tips and it will feel easier.

Bottom line: Do what you can to make this process easier for you. Implement steps that do this. It takes time now, but will help overall. Also, keep track of your spending and paying down of your debts. Which is the next point.

7. Reevaluate Your Progress at Set Intervals

Doing a regular check-in can help you see your efforts pay off or maybe indicate that you need to give this a bit more effort. If you check every 3-6 months, it will not feel so much like a chore or feel so daunting.

By doing this, you will be able to better understand your progress and perhaps readjust your plan. Bonus: if you see it pay off, it will feel great to do this check-in. You will get there.

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Finally (and most importantly)…

8. Keep Trying

Do not get discouraged. Pushing it off will make it worse. Just keep trying.

Once your debt becomes lower, each monthly payment will reduce the balance more. Why? You are paying less towards interest. It will be a snowball effect eventually and it will become much easier to manage. Just get to that point. And know once you do, it will feel easier and motivating.

Start Knocking out Your Debt Today

The best way to eliminate debt is to get started right away. Begin by implementing the above steps and watch your debt just melt away. Try out some of the above strategies and see what works best for you. Soon you’ll be on your way to a debt free life.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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