Let’s be honest, being an adult can be kind of stressful. For those of us who are not blessed with a never-ending supply of wealth, budgeting money can be slightly tricky.
What makes it even trickier is that the traditional budgeting strategies that worked for our parents and grandparents don’t necessarily work for us. This is due to many factors including:
- Our generation has more student loan debt than previous generations.
- We generally are making less money than our parents’ generation did, after adjusting wages for inflation.
- Our cost of living has increased because we are living in more urban areas than before.
There may not be a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to creating a budget, but there is one thing that we can all agree on: how you should start.
The first step to creating a good budget is to see if your spending habits fit your income. If they don’t, you’ll need to adjust those habits. There are a few apps out there that are fabulous at helping you do this.
Mint allows you to link your bank accounts and track your spending by categories. It also has bill payment reminders and provides you with strategies and tips on how to best save your money.
The beauty of a lot of these budgeting apps is that they draw attention to subscriptions or expenses that you either don’t use or forgot you had. Some of them even round purchases up a few cents and transfer those small amounts to a separate savings account for you.
Acorns is an app that is based on this concept. When you link your bank accounts to it, your purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and that “change” is invested for you. Because there is a small monthly charge for this app, it might be better suited for someone who has an established monthly budget.
Once you have a clear picture on what you spend your money on, you can start to look for expenses that you can cut out. There are so many things that you can do to save a little bit of money in different ways.
A couple of ideas to help cut costs include:
- Moving back home or getting a roommate.
- Eating out less often, including that daily morning run to Starbucks, etc.
- If you live in an urban area, using public transportation to save on fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.
Focus on your needs (housing, groceries, etc.) instead of your wants (expensive clothing). A good rule of thumb is to stick to a “50-30-20” budget.
- 50% for needs such as housing, utilities, loans, etc.
- 30% towards things like entertainment, travel and other wants.
- 20% intended for saving for retirement, emergency funds, and other long-term goals.
No matter how what your budgeting strategy is, remember that each person’s situation is different and, therefore, what works for one person may not necessarily work for you. Experiment and see what fits your lifestyle. Happy saving!