So how do you budget? I like to keep things as simple as possible. In fact, I have admitted in the past that I don’t have much of a budget, although I can appreciate how a budgeting system can help a lot of people take control of their household debt and manage their savings programs.
But there are a couple of ideas I already employ that have kept me out of debt and saving steadily for the couple of decades I’ve been a personal finance hobbyist. Since it’s been a while since I delved into these strategies, I’d love to expound on these thoughts again.
Control Your Debt With Smart Saving Strategies
1. Pay yourself first: automate your bill pay and savings programs.
One of my earliest and most popular posts has been about the “pay yourself first” methodology of saving. What’s awesome about this approach is that it immediately puts money in your savings account without you noticing much of a difference. How does it work? You set yourself up as a “creditor” lining up to get paid like everyone else each month. Link up a high yield savings account to your checking account and set up some kind of money transfer process between the two.
2. Use a top-notch budgeting tool.
There are some awesome applications out there to help you with your budgeting needs. I like Mint and Wesabe as free online tools for this purpose. What more, these online tools are fashioned as Web 2.0 applications with helpful community features. But if you’d rather do your finances in the confines of your desktop environment, why not take a look at YNAB (You Need A Budget) financial budgeting software? It’s my favorite desktop budgeting tool, which smokes Quicken in ratings.
3. Accelerate your debt repayment schedules.
By putting down more money towards your debt, it will retire your debt much faster. I’ve actually been pretty aggressive with paying off my mortgage, so much so that in a few years, we’ll own our house free and clear! One way to pay things down faster is by focusing on the highest interest debt first and retiring it as fast as possible, while maintaining the minimum payments for all your other debts. Pay one debt at a time as quickly as you can and you’ll save many thousands of dollars in interest.
4. Bank your windfalls and save your unexpected income.
How do you plan to use a windfall such as a stimulus check or tax credit? Why not pretend that you never receive it? Instead, as soon as the money hits your checking account, funnel it immediately to a high yield savings account or online stock broker out of your line of sight. If you don’t see the money, you’ll be less likely to spend it!
5. Manage your money as a team.
I believe that two heads are better than one, and working together as a team with your family or partner can facilitate financial harmony. By keeping the lines of communication open with your partner when it comes to your finances, there are checks and balances governing the way you manage your money, and there will be less chance of misunderstandings due to financial issues.