Whether you have purchased your Personalized Budget Plan from City Girl Savings or sat down and created your own budget from scratch, the true work comes from actually managing and following that budget. How do you deal with unexpected expenses? What happens if you come in over or under your budget at the end of each month? The CGS Team is sharing a few useful tips to help you effectively manage your budget and keep you motivated to keep following it.
As structured as it sounds to give yourself a set amount for each category every month ($100 for groceries, $50 for gas, etc.), you never know what could happen. You may be hosting a dinner party, or have to take an unexpected road trip. Whatever the case may be, allow yourself some flexibility in your categories. If you often stay under budget, great! Put that money in savings or leave it for an instance when you know you will need to go over budget. You can also compensate from other areas to help pay for unexpected budget overages.
Budget for a Little Fun
We are HUGE proponents of this. If you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the little things or splurge in moderation, you will drive yourself crazy. More importantly, you may push yourself to an unplanned shopping spree and spend more than you can afford to! By budgeting for a Starbucks latte twice a week, or a quarterly mani-pedi treatment, you still have something to look forward to while you’re making financial moves.
Keep Spending Below Your Income
For any budget to work, your expenses, bills, debts, and general spending MUST be below your income. If this is not the case for you, kiss any unnecessary spending goodbye. Start ordering your bills and expenses by importance and ensure those at the top of the list are always paid. Any extra income should go towards the bills that aren’t getting paid on time. Let your budget show you where you are overspending and make sure to cut back to at least a break-even point between income and expenses.
Automate Your Savings
With the exception of the situation above, your budget will show you how much extra income you should have at the end of each month. “Should” meaning you are staying within your budgeted amounts. Whatever amount this is, have it automatically transferred to savings or into an account that can be used solely to pay off your debts. The notion behind this is that you want this “extra” money out of sight and out of mind before you find justifications for spending it.
Track Your Expenses
If you aren’t keeping tabs on your spending, how do you know if you are actually following your budget? To effectively manage your budget means you can account for where your money is going. The only way to do this is to track your spending. Whether you use an app, write your expenses down, track receipts or use an excel spreadsheet, get yourself in a routine for manually tracking your spending. Any area that doesn’t align with what you’ve budgeted for needs adjusting.
Related: 6 Tips for Sticking to Your Budget
While the real work is behind the budget, you can make things easier on yourself by implanting some of the tips above. Dealing with your finances can be scary and intimidating, but when you know what you can and could be doing, it helps make the actual doing so much easier! How do you consistently manage your budget? What do you do if you overspend unexpectedly? Leave a comment below to share! We want to hear from you!