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One of my biggest aims this year is to get better at managing my budget. This is always a good aim, but I’ve got an even bigger motivation because in just over a month, I’ll be leaving my job and setting off on a long-term travel adventure with my boyfriend. Knowing how to budget is going to be a major factor…
We really, really don’t want this to be a trip that ends with us returning to ‘real life’ – we want travel to be our lives. We’re climbers, and love the outdoors, and the thought of spending our 20s locked in an office for the best part of the day is not one that fits with our goals.
So, the budget. I’m working on building up a freelance copywriting business (shameless plug), and exploring other means of income, but for now, I’m basing my budget for the next month on my current spending. Using the Budget Planner provided by Money Advice Service, I’ve figured out how much I’m spending, and looked up a few ways that will help me cut down on spending – and will hopefully help you too!
My breakdown currently looks like this:
I didn’t enter any costs on clothes, random purchases as I found it hard to make an estimate, so leisure would probably increase on average.
I’ve got to cut down on leisure and living costs big time to start improving savings. Most of my ‘extra’ money (after bills and basic living costs) goes on my gym and other hobbies (climbing, yoga classes) and eating out.
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Simple Tips on How to Budget Your Money
Sett a Goal
Having something to work towards make saving so much easier. Whether your future goals are to travel, buy a house, take a less well-paying job for a career change, or something else entirely, working towards achieving this will give your budget some worth.
I’m saving to be able to travel comfortably without worrying what I’ll do if I lose my clients on the road – fingers crossed that won’t happen, but I’ll feel far more in control with a safety net under me. It might also help to publicise your goal; just drop in to a few friends that you’re hoping to save for X in X amount of time. Sharing your goal makes it real, and that additional pressure could give you an added boost to stick to your budget.
Leave No Penny Unturned
It’s all well and good to have your budget planned out and your saving goal set for each month, but letting the odd coffee or lunch out slip could quickly pile up. If I do have an unplanned splurge, I’ll try to factor it into my budget somehow to make up for it – or at least so I can look back and see what happened that month.
Make a Few Sacrifices
My boyfriend and I love a meal out, and I love buying quality ingredients to make meals with lots of variety. That has to be my sacrifice when saving, as I love my fitness too much to just stop – although I have cancelled my expensive gym membership to join a more affordable one!
This week I bought all the food I’ll need for about 10 days in one shop – it came to £30, so about £3 per day. I have no doubt I can reduce this significantly with a bit more planning, but it’s not a bad start.
Whatever your weakness: clothes, films, books – you should be aware of this and limit your usual spending. Just think, the sacrifice now will be all the sweeter when you’ve achieved your goal.
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There are heaps of budget tracking apps out there to keep better control on your finances. Tracking every penny sounds a little paranoid, and boring, but doing it even for a week or so can give a far clearer idea of your spending.
I’m going to be looking for a budget tracker app that will help to keep me accountable for my money – any tips are welcome here!
Create A Savings Account
Back when I was 18 and started to save for my first real goal (a 5 month trip around Asia and Australia), the first thing I did was to set up a savings account and create a direct debit that put a certain amount of money into this account every month. Knowing how to budget your money and build a steady source of savings is essential.
As soon as I was paid, money was moved to my savings account before I could even miss it. Saving then, when I lived with my parents rent-free and had no car, gym membership or real living costs to worry about, was far easier, but the savings account will help keeping to a limited budget no matter how old you are.
Your results may vary with this, but a tactic some people use to budget better is to withdraw that amount in cash each week or month. Using a card is so easy, especially with contactless nowadays, that you can quickly end up spending far more money than you realise.
Having the physical cash in your wallet may prevent you from spending unwisely as you see the notes decrease.
Saving isn’t easy when there are so many things to spend on shoved in our faces every day. When it comes down to it, if you want to save you need to apply some real willpower and simply get it done. Buckle down now and reap the rewards when you have enough savings to achieve your dream goal – at least, that’s the plan…
Learning how to budget isn’t the tricky part – sticking to it is! Let me know if you already use any of these tips to help your budget – or do you have any tips that I’ve not mentioned?!