My #1 Tip to Keep My Budget on Track to Wealth
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Budgets… one of our least favorite words. I would love to not have a “budget” each month, but I also have big dreams of financial freedom in the not-so-distant future. To me, the budgeting part is pretty easy. It is the ability to keep my budget on track for the day-to-day spending that is hard.
It is easy to know that $x goes to my mortgage, car payment, savings, daycare. All of those things at the beginning of the month area easy. And I LOVE that they come out of my check pretty much the day I get paid. It is the rest of the month that I struggle to keep my budget on track.
Where does my money go each month?
I know that I allocate about $1,000 month for every other expense. Groceries, clothes, eating out, whatever it is. That is the monthly amount I chose to spend on everything else. Now knowing this and the ability to keep my budget on track are two different concepts.
I’ve spent several months knowing that with about $1,000, I can get everything I need. Need being the keyword. We all have wants, but holding out on those wants is what has helped me become more successful in saving for some big plans.
So if you’re not sure where your money does go each month, track it! See how much you spend on eating out, groceries, shopping. I can always tell the months where I have had to eat out more because I didn’t meal prep. It takes a huge hit to my budget. And guess what? The less I spend on getting lunch at work, the more I can spend on clothes 😉
Why not use Dave Ramsey to keep my budget on track?
I love the idea of Dave Ramsey’s cash systems, but for a couple of different reasons, this just doesn’t work for me.
1 – I literally hate having to add one more errand to my to-do list to get cash.
2 – I love the rewards that my credit card offers. We haven’t paid for flights or hotel rooms in a long time because we pay our credit card off each month.
I also don’t like being tied to one category. Sometimes I just need to stock up on some groceries, and other months, B goes through a growth spurt and I need to spend $100 just so she has something to wear.
So what’s the solution?
The one thing that is finally getting me to my goal of financial freedom is to use a pre-paid debit card. Here’s the cool thing – I can purchase this card with my credit card and still get the same points benefits. Check that off of my criteria.
I can also order it about a week before the first of the month and have it there to use at the first of the month.
It also rewards me being frugal. I’ve started shopping at Wal-Mart and Boxed for our groceries and have saved about $100/month on groceries. So that gives me an extra $100 at the end of the month to spend whatever it is I need to.
Boxed is fantastic because I can stock up on a lot of our items early in the month, and hopefully be covered for the remainder of the month.
I purchase the gift cards from our local bank because the fees are much cheaper, and they are just mailed to me!
How does this build wealth?
My budget is pretty detailed, and I set aside a small amount for saving and investing each month. If I have to dip into my savings for that month, it puts me farther away from purchasing another rental property or from being able to keep paying for B’s college fund.
The ability to say no, so that you can later say yes, is so, so freeing!
What are your best budget tips?