5 Things I Do Every Month That Made Me Better at Budgeting
Learning how to budget gets easier when you regularly check in with your current monthly expenses and how you plan to pay them.
I tend to focus the majority of my budgeting first on maintaining the day-to day living expenses. This doesn't mean that that I don't consider things like savings, debt, investing or having savings accounts as I do also believe that creating a budget that includes all these things is ultimately the best idea for budgeting.
Whatever types of expenses you decide to include in creating your budget, what I have learned is maintaining will come down to these 5 habits that I have adopted and do every month. Whether you are working with a tighter budget or are in a good flow season, skipping regular check-ins, in my practice doing this for years, is where we can easily get off track.
I update my expense calendar monthly.
I found these bill organizers a while ago at a Dollar Tree and have been able to use it for a couple of years. Every month I take all my bills and due dates and write them in order by date and how I plan to pay it (bank account, check, money order, cash). I add a small note to remind myself of the method of payment and check it off the list when it's paid.
I use an online budget or expense tracker.
Although online banking is my immediate go-to for managing the activities of my banking account(s), I still use another online tool for managing all the aspects of my budgeting so that I also track expenses and spending habits/activities that also take place outside of my bank account(s). This process also allows me to categorize purchases between different kinds of expenses, add purchases from banking statements and project future income and budgeting needs all in one place.
I use a small notebook and write out a snippet overview of income and expenses.
In this notebook, I write up a quick bi-weekly inventory of available cash resources and the next few bills that are to come out and income to come in. If I need to refresh my memory or make an adjustment in the cashflow, this is the place I tackle it first before making any real-time adjustments.
I review monthly bank statements.
Online banking allows you to view your statements and activity online, which I do once a month. What usually works best for me, is viewing the statement in print so that I can track, compare, or make transaction notes and be sure that everything is accounted for.
- Budgeting is a learned behavior over time.
- Be kind to yourself about your spending habits, especially for the first 90 days of creating a new budget. Think of it as also a way to collect data on your habits so you can adjust.
- Budgeting should/can also include things you enjoy. You do not have to always exclude things you want over necessities!
- If you recognize that you are in a season where money is tighter than usual, you can refer to these tips to help keep you open to thinking through solutions.