This blog post is dedicated to all the people who shoulder budgeting responsibilities but aren’t sure what to do and how to religiously stick to it. This hack will grow your savings and most importantly it will give you peace of mind knowing that whatever you’re spending is all penciled in the budget record.
Modern technology has allowed us to pay bills without actually shelling out tangible cash through automated payments. In today’s modern world you can already pay most if not all of your bills online and most bills can even be paid automatically through subscription. These bills include utility bills, insurances, and even your phone bill. Whatever expenses you can pay online, pay it that way.
In the same manner, if you can automate your expenses you should also automate your savings. Create a schedule and pick a certain day(s) of the month, usually after payday and the amount will automatically be subtracted from your paycheck. The principal advantage that I like best about automated payments and savings is the fact that it saves us tons of time and money over gasoline bills. And it also means that all money allocated for that budget will be exact. Before automation, I had the urge to spend whatever money is left in my wallet. If you want to keep everything in line with your budget do it through automated payments.
When you hear someone say, “create a budget” I’m sure you’re going to scoff and you’d even think they’re kidding. Budgeting is one of the most important aspects in our lives whether it’s about our business, our household or our personal needs. Yet even if budgeting is a well-known and widely accepted necessity why is it so hard to follow? It’s just like our doctors telling us to “eat more vegetables” or “eat more fish and go easy on the red meat” sometimes we hear it but we shrug it off even if we know it’s for our benefit. And I think I know the reason why.
Make use of long envelopes. They really come in handy.
At first, I thought it was ridiculous. My wife suggested it once to keep our finances in check, but I dismissed his suggestion thinking that it would only add clutter to our desk. It was only until a friend of mine shared her envelope budgeting strategy that I reluctantly gave it a go. Surprisingly, it really was effective and it’s quick, easy and effortless and I felt an odd sense of security about it. This is what I did:
- At the start of the month, I get my stacks of envelopes for each of my spending paper categories. These are the categories under groceries, gas, and miscellaneous.
- After doing all the segregating, I wrote down each category for each of my envelopes and I also wrote down the amount of money that we agreed on.
- After that, we withdrew the exact amount of money for every envelope. So for example for gas, which I wrote eighty dollars below it, I inserted eighty dollars inside that gas envelope. It’s that simple really. This way you’ll know how much money you are spending and how much is left for saving.
If you’re not fully sold on the idea of creating a budget I understand. I understand because I was once like you. I run a household of five members and while I do make money and so does my wife, I was the one assigned to make the monthly budget. Budgeting for me felt suffocating because it meant I couldn’t buy two cereal boxes in a month at the same time. And my bacon hoarding activity would be lessened and I also couldn’t fill my carts with whatever beauty products I fancy because when there’s a budget everything is black and white and there are no gray areas. There was once when I tried making a budget, at the end of the month when I looked at my records I almost fell off my chair. I didn’t expect to spend so much in just so little time.
Don’t Neglect Your Cash
As much as I enjoyed going paperless, having cash handy is also very useful. Although sticking to the budget may be tempting when you have cash in your wallet, sometimes it’s actually quite better than having to depend on credit cards. When my wife gave me a credit card for a present I felt I was finally in control with my life and my finances. But as you guessed it, I was wrong. It was so easy to just hand over a credit card and in minutes, I have for myself a handful of shopping bags I don’t even need. I was always on a shopping spree. When we got deep in debt I decided for my own good and for the sake of my family’s finances to cut our credit card line. Credit cards are great in fact they are so convenient everyone has them. But it since you can’t see and feel tangible money getting out of your wallet you don’t really feel the pain that comes with spending. At least, if you have money in your wallets, you’ll feel that gripping guilt every time you buy something rather than the easy swiping of credit cards.
To answer your question, yes Amazon does offer the lowest prices on products online according to a report from L2.
The said report was based on the evaluation of twenty-seven thousand five hundred seventeen Amazon listings out of three hundred fifteen brands in six different verticals such as watches, jewelry, beauty, hair care and color, fashion and personal care.
So far, Amazon consistently showed to offer the best prices on the Internet for around ninety-five percent of beauty listings, ninety-two percent of fashions listings, ninety-percent of hair care and color listings, eighty-one percent of personal care listings, eighty-one percent of watch and jewelry listings.
Amazon offered the lowest prices on famous brands within the categories mentioned. Take, for instance, ninety-two percent of L’Oreal products were found to have prices that are much lower on Amazon compared to any other online retailer websites. The same holds true for eighty-seven percent of Procter & Gamble listings.
Wal-Mart challenged the prices on Amazon compared to any other E-commerce websites and it accounted for sixteen percent of the cases wherein Amazon did indeed show higher prices.
What Is The Secret To Amazon’s Success? And Why Are They Offering Insanely Cheap Products?
Well, the secret is out. Amazon offers the lowest prices in many of the verticals we’ve managed to examine all because this E-commerce site promotes competition between third-party dealers on their website.
One of the biggest mistakes in budgeting is allocating all of your income (100 percent) to your household’s expenses. Richard Jenkins, the editor-in-chief of MS Money has a solution and he calls it “The 60% Solution”. The great thing about this method is it already shoulders all the broad categories we mentioned in number 1, but it gives your more air and space to breathe. Here’s how it goes.
Sixty percent goes to the fixed expenses. So take sixty percent of your total gross household income and allocate it to your fixed expenses. These include insurance, loans, bills, food, and social security taxes among others.
The ten percent should be allocated for retirement. This is the money you set apart for retirement by placing them in plans like the IRA.
Saving ten percent of your savings for the long-term. If you have pending credit card debt pay these first and once all debts are cleared out that’s the time you use this ten percent for savings.
Ten percent goes to short-term expenses like vacations, new appliances, and house repairs.
The remaining ten percent should be doing activities you love like watching movies, eating out, buying new makeup or toys for the kids etc.
I was always uneasy with the whole budgeting thing I did what most people would, I threw my budget out my window and started living the life. Unfortunately, it didn’t long because our savings was depleting and I didn’t want anyone to blame me for it. I did some research and I finally came up with five hacks that will make your budgeting a less of a pain. In fact, I am on my third month and so far everything is going exactly like how I anticipated it to be.
The number one hack that really got me excited and gave me a new perspective about budgeting was when I began broadening my categories.
Back then I was convinced that in order to properly budget I had to specify every type of expense category like allocating money on chicken, groceries, snacks, frozen cuts etc. While this is okay it doesn’t have to be that specific because it will only give you unnecessary headaches. Trust me, I’ve been there. In fact to make it look less painful, you shouldn’t really be specifying your budget down to the last detail. Not only is it added work it’s also very stressful to try to fit everything within that budget frame.
My suggestion is to broaden your categories to simplify your budget system. Take, for example, my wife and I go out on weekends to watch movies and sometimes when we’re too tired to cook we dine at restaurants or order takeout. Instead of specifying “Movies”, “Restaurants” and “Takeout” I placed everything in one category and I called it “Miscellaneous”. After setting up a budget for the fixed expenses like electricity, water bill, rental fee, tuition fee, grocery etc. I can now create a budget for miscellaneous activities. This way I can allocate a specific percentage of our income to one category. So for example, if you decided to eat at a fancy restaurant this weekend you can skip on the movies this week and watch it the following week. When you set a budget and find yourself living it you will feel a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction afterward and nothing is more rewarding than that.