Here are 5 more tips that have worked for me when planning my budget. This is a continuation of budgeting tips part 1 post.
- Don’t forget to account for one time expenses, also known as “planned spending”. Divide the total amount by 12 months and set aside these funds periodically so you have the lump sum payment when its due.
This is actually a tricky one to actually stick with. Not because I don’t remember to set aside the funds, but because I think that the money is needed more urgently for something else. So I push saving for the expense forward until I have to address it. Well, this is a work in progress for me, but something I am definitely trying to change in 2016. In 2016, I set aside these amounts monthly to prepare myself for 2017 expenses. Here they are:
AMA membership $230.000 $19.17/monthly
Vehicle Registration $90.00 $7.50/ monthly
New tires $500.00 $41.67/monthly
Total monthly $68.34/monthly
- Give yourself some wiggle room in your spending so you don’t use debt to cover the shortfall.
Saving money is something that brings me great joy. Sometimes, to the point where I don’t set aside enough money for expenses that are always changing as cost of living goes up or the state of the economy changes. These expenses may be different for you, but for me they are:
Previous amount New Amount
Groceries $240/bi weekly $270/bi weekly
Gas $70/bi weekly $80/ bi weekly
Utilities $30/bi weekly $35/biweekly
Groceries amount does not include eating out. Even at $270 bi weekly, this number is very conservative for Alberta as the price of groceries are so much higher here (in my opinion) compared to Ontario where I am originally from. However, by increasing it by even $30 biweekly, it has brought a lot of financial relief, and best of all, no credit cards. Gas was increased by $10 to account for the fact that my husband and I take more trips outside the city for the day to go hiking in the mountains on the weekends. Gas prices have actually gone down in Calgary, which has really helped us stretch our driving to different places. If you make every effort to cut cost, but your still find yourself using credit cards to cover shortfalls in your budget, consider increasing the amount you put towards these budget items. Even if that means reducing the amount put in savings.
- Always prepare a zero-based budget.
A zero based budget means that every single dollar that you earn has a purpose. Even if you allocate it to shopping, eating out or vacations etc.
A zero based budget means
Income – [Expenses+Saving & Investing] = $0
because every dollar is accounted for. This does not mean you can’t borrow from different budget items if you fall short in one and have a surplus in the other, as long as you don’t use debt to meet your shortfall, then you are on the right track.
- Revisit your entire budget at least once a year if not more. Even if your income or expenses have not changed significantly from one year to another. Its important to revisit your entire budget and look at it with “fresh eyes” at least once a year. We do this in December, when we set out all of our goals for the next year. Do you want to save more next year? Maybe you’ve saved a lot already and you want to spend more next year? Do you want to put more towards your debt than you did last year, how much more? etc. Redoing your budget every year even if things are running smoothly makes you rethink every line item and whether or not the amount is too high, low or just right. You don’t have to wait till the beginning of a new year, this is just something that I do, your finances won’t know the difference, but they will thank you for it!
- Prepare a net worth statement. A net worth statement is all your assets (what you own), minus all of your liabilities (what you owe). It represents how much you would have in liquid and non-liquid assets you would have left for yourself after you paid off all the people that you owe. A net worth statement is a true picture of where you stand financially. Ideally, your net worth should be positive & increasing year after year as you work to increase assets and pay off the people that you owe, if not, its important to sort out your spending habits and find ways to correct this. There are great resources that can track your net worth for you like Mint.ca or a simple excel spreadsheet will do.
What tips have you found worked for your budget?
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