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The Simple Way to Track and Save Money

The Simple Way to Track and Save Money

I like to keep track of what I’m spending, what money is coming in, and what my outgoing money is spent on. It helps me to save money for expected and unexpected expenses, as well as setting money aside for vacations and all those seasonal holidays that involve spending money on gifts (Christmas, Birthdays, Weddings etc.). Usually, I use a spreadsheet for this — Excel, in my case. However, I know of many people that have an aversion to spreadsheets, in particular, getting the formulas right and making calculations across several sheets… far too complicated and too much effort.

This is where You Need a Budget (YNAB) helps by providing you with software that assists you in managing your budget. Plus, unlike Mint, it supports more than just the US and Canada, and not only that, YNAB teaches you a 4-rule method to manage your money with the goal of saving enough so that you can live off the previous months savings without spending any of this month’s income.

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Here’s the 4-step rule:

  1. Give Every Dollar a Job.
  2. Save For a Rainy Day.
  3. Roll With the Punches.
  4. Live on Last Month’s Income.

1. Give Every Dollar a Job

The principal behind this rule is to assign your money to an expense, whether that is rent, groceries, etc. So after you add a checking account and put in a total, you need to assign your money to do a job. Any money not assigned can be rolled forward to future months.

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    2. Save For a Rainy Day

    This rule is all about planning ahead. For example, you have home insurance to pay for and it’s due in 6 months. Budget for it across 6 months, so that you don’t spend money impulsively. You can use this rule to save up for vacations and other high ticket items (a new couch or TV). The same method can be used to set aside money for unexpected bills, such as car or home repairs.

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    3. Roll With the Punches

    This rule is all about adjusting your budget when you overspend in one category. This happens sometimes; for example, you spend more on books than you intended, in which case, you can adjust your budget by moving some of the money budgeted towards clothes, or have it deducted from next month’s budget so you spend less on books in the following month. It’s straight forward to put what you are spending by adding a new transaction. This can be income or expenditure, and the main budget sheet will keep track of it for you.

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      4. Live on Last Month’s Income

      This is the main aim of this method. To save up a month’s worth of paychecks before the month has started.

      One of the useful features in YNAB are the charts that let you see where the bulk of your money goes. This can help you to re-budget and see which areas of your life takes up most of your income. You these reports to help you re-adjust your budget if necessary or to create targets. For example, if food expenses eat up a large percentage of your spending, you can try and adjust it to make it more proportional to the other parts of your life.

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        If you follow this method that YNAB coaches, then it can be a useful personal finance (or small business) budgeting tool. It’s free to try for the first 30 days, and if it’s for you, then it only costs $60 to get a license for the software. YNAB also provides a bunch of home study guides and online classes to help you learn and this method.

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        Published on November 20, 2018

        The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

        The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

        The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

        Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

        In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

        Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

        Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

        If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

        I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

        It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

        For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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        How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

        Stop manually tracking your spending.

        Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

        When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

        Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

        The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

        Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

        Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

        Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

        If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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        Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

        Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

        1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
        2. Only buy nice things after saving
        3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

        These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

        How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

        Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

        So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

        By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

        This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

        For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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        Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

        A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

        Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

        You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

        What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

        Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

        Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

        During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

        Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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        Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

        Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

        By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

        The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

        Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

        Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

        What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

        Reference

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