Human beings have been to the Moon, built the pyramids, invented the electric light, the car and the telephone but somehow, someway, managing their own money seems like an elusive achievement that evades them. Don’t sweat it, you’re not alone in this quest.
In a world where expenses run faster than a brakeless train, personal finance has become somewhat of a teachable, trainable skill. With Easter just around the corner, we will share 7 personal finance Easter eggs to fix your budgeting skills and help you head into summer with a few extra zeros in your balance.
1. Make a note of recurring expenses
This one is easy –- make a list of the things you pay for on a weekly or monthly basis. Knowing your recurring expenses creates an understanding of your baseline expenses, the amount of money you unquestionably need to have every single month. Here are some examples of what falls under the recurring expenses category:
- Car loan payment
- Phone bill
- Mortgage payment
Tracking these expenses allows you to be in the know about how much you need to cover the essential bases, the pillars of your life, day in and day out.
2. Re-evaluate your subscriptions
Gone are the days where we used to sit tight on the sofa, and wait for our favourite TV show to start. We live in the golden age of streaming, and we’re all guilty for more than one subscription on our bill. Whether it’d be Netflix, Amazon or Hulu, subscriptions are a big part of our entertainment and spending habits.
What seems like an insignificant number at first glance, might actually turn out to be a lot at the end of the month. Our advice is to re-think your subscriptions by asking the following questions:
- How much do you really use it each month?
- How much would you miss it if it were gone?
- Can you share that subscription by adding a friend to your profile?
Answering these questions will pave the way for a healthier budget and balance at the end of the month.
3. Automate your saving
Trying to maintain a savings account often feels like the little mouse running on the scroll wheel - a lot of effort and good intentions but not really getting anywhere. The trick is to remove yourself from the savings process, automate it and forget it’s actually happening.
Thanks to open banking and the advent of modern personal finance apps you can now set a number you feel comfortable with, an execution date and the app will automatically deduct that amount from your account and set it aside in a savings account. It all happens in the background for you and you don’t need to worry about it.
4. Categorise your spending
Once again, you can thank open banking and personal finance apps for providing this feature, so you don’t have to get lost in Excel spreadsheets and colour coding escapades. Personal finance apps have the ability to group your spending in categories such as Salary, Food & Groceries, Leisure & Entertainment and any other category you decide to create.
Where is the benefit in that? It creates a heatmap of your spending habits and gives you a quick signal on the adjustments you need to make in order to fix your budgeting skills.
5. Set a buffer amount aside
Each month is different and no matter how many lists you compile, notes you take or budgeting formulas you apply, you’ll never get it completely right. The reason? Our lives are dynamic, ever-changing lines with unpredictable events we can’t account for. Here is a list of things that might happen:
- Medical emergency
- Car maintenance
- House malfunction
How do you factor in the unexpected? You act like you’re expecting it. Setting aside a buffer amount for these events will prove to be life-saving. If it so happens that nothing came up and you don’t need that amount, you just made a saving. If something does happen, you have the money to deal with it.
6. Have a clear budgeting goal
The basic budgeting principle is that you ensure the money that comes into your account is more than the money leaving your account, leaving you with a positive balance. Making that principle a bit more specific and turning it into a goal, can actually help you create the path to success. Here are some examples of budgeting goals you can aspire to achieve:
- Save X amount of money
- Save towards a new car
- Pay for my student loan
- Pay my mortgage
The list can get really long but you get the idea. Identifying a clear goal is the first step to success.
7. Arrange a date for progress appraisal
As mentioned above, no month is the same. Plans and budgets should never be set in stone. You need to always be on top of developments and have the reflexes and ability to adjust and refine. How do you do that?
- Set one or more dates during the month to see how your initial plan is going
- If your budget is well below expectations, adjust accordingly
- At the end of the month, examine the reasons and see if you can come up with a pattern
By constantly revisiting your initial plan, you ensure that you address the dynamic nature of the budgeting practice.