5 Things I Do Every Month That Made Me Better at Budgeting

Learning how to budget becomes easier when you regularly review your current monthly expenses and your plan to cover them.

I tend to focus the majority of my budgeting efforts on managing day-to-day living expenses. However, that doesn't mean I neglect other important aspects such as savings, debt, investments, or maintaining savings accounts. I firmly believe that a comprehensive budget encompassing all these factors is ultimately the best approach.

Regardless of the types of expenses you choose to include in your budget, I've learned that maintaining your financial stability comes down to these five habits I've adopted and practice every month. Whether you're working with a tight budget or enjoying a period of financial stability, skipping regular check-ins—something I've consistently practiced for years—is where one can easily veer off track.

#1 Update my expense calendar monthly.

I found these bill organizers a while ago and have been using them for a couple of years. Every month, I gather all my bills and due dates, then write them in chronological order along with my planned method of payment (bank account, check, money order, cash). I add a brief note to remind myself of the payment method and check each bill off the list once it's paid.

#2 Use an online budget or expense tracker.

While online banking is my immediate go-to for managing the activities of my banking account(s), I also utilize another online tool to manage all aspects of my budgeting. This way, I can track expenses and spending habits that occur beyond my bank account(s). This process enables me to categorize purchases, incorporate transactions from bank statements, and project future income and budgeting needs—all in one place.

#3 Use a small notebook to write out a brief overview of your income and expenses.

In this notebook, I create a brief bi-weekly inventory of available cash resources, upcoming bills, and expected income. If I need to refresh my memory or make adjustments to my cash flow, this is the place I address it before making any real-time changes.

Access my Budget Overview Worksheet now available!

#4 Review monthly bank statements.

Online banking allows you to view your statements and activity online, something I do once a month. What usually works best for me is viewing the statement in print. This way, I can track, compare, or make transaction notes and ensure that everything is accounted for.

#5 Experiment with different ways to save on things I buy regularly.

I take the time to explore other digital tools such as reward apps, coupons, and participating in free or low-cost customer rewards programs to maximize my budget and save wherever possible. This adds an element of creativity and fun to the budgeting process, and it's exciting when you discover relevant deals. Many customer rewards are also shareable, providing opportunities for additional savings. It's definitely worth looking into!

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Encouragement When Creating and Maintaining a Budget:
  • Budgeting is a learned behavior that takes time.
  • Be kind to yourself about your spending habits, especially during the first 90 days of creating a new budget. Consider it a way to gather data about your habits so that you can make adjustments.
  • Your budget can and should also include things you enjoy. You don't always have to exclude things you want in favor of necessities!
  • If you find yourself in a season where money is tighter than usual, you can refer to these tips to help you think through possible solutions.
Do you have a budget or a way that you budget that works for you? Let me know by commenting below!


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