If you have been working at your debt for any good length of time, you’re probably a lot like me; sick and tired of seeing all of those “Beginner Budgets” articles. I’m certainly not saying those articles don’t have value, they do, but a lot of them say the same things over and over. When you’re in the midst of a debt pay off, you really need something a bit more advanced when it comes to your budget.
Before you move on to advanced budgeting, please make sure you’re ready for an advanced budget. If you still don’t know when your bills are due, or if you’re just now trying to get a handle on things, here are a few links to great articles to get you started:
Creative Savings: An 8 part series on the Beginner Budget
Budget Loving Military Wife: Create a Budget That Works for You
The Budget Mama: 3 Steps to Setting Financial Goals
These are all helpful articles with a few printables and great advice to get you started on your journey. If you’re like me though, and ready to move forward to something a little tougher, get ready for Advanced Budgeting!
1. Keep track of every penny you spend for an entire month
Some people might argue with me on this being an advanced budgeting tip, and include this in beginner budgets. Personally, I feel this technique is better once you already have a grasp on when your bills are due, and have a system for paying them in place. Once you’re into the grove of budgeting, you’ll discover it’s incredibly easy to start slipping in non-essential items to your budget.
Save your receipts and at the end of the month grab a highlighter, and start marking non-essential purchases. Then add up the total and see what you spent. If you are trying to pay off debt, obviously, you need to move that amount of money into a debt category and stick to putting it towards debt. If you are OK with the fun money, then make sure you add it in to a fun money category, BUT start pulling it out in CASH. Once it’s gone for the month, you’re DONE.
2. Make your house payment bi-monthly
It’s easiest if you do this on those months when you receive a 3rd paycheck, if you’re lucky enough to be paid bi-weekly. You will have to make an extra 1/2 payment up front, but then you can put the house payment on auto withdrawal, and when you get paid half of your house payment will come out every paycheck. For me, this made it a lot easier to balance our budget, and even better, if you have those 3 paycheck months, you’ll end up making an extra house payment per year with little effort on your part.
3. Pay your Auto and Home insurance in full each year (and anything else that gives you a paid in full discount)
Your auto and homeowner insurance policies will give you a HUGE discount for paying them in full, I’m talking several hundred dollars per year. If you’re making monthly payments now, start saving the same amount each month into another account. Yes, the first year or 6 months you will have to make a double payment (the current one and the one you’re saving), but once you get past the first phase of it, you will be able to write one check, and then save for your next policy.
Check your subscription services and see if they offer discounts. When I bought my new car, Sirius Radio called me ALL THE TIME trying to get me to keep the service. I didn’t keep it after my free trial, but they did offer a pretty large discount for paying in full.
4. Budget your “unexpected” expenses
Let’s get real, they’re not really unexpected, they are just things you don’t normally think about. Car maintenance, doctor appointments, dental visits, pet care and other expenses can creep up on you and throw your budget completely out of whack. Look through your old bank statements and see how much money you actually spent on those items.
For example: My husband is diabetic. He has to go and get blood work several times a year, and because he works in Healthcare, he catches a lot of crud that goes around. I KNOW he is going to have to go to the doctor every year, and some of the lab work will have to be paid out-of-pocket. I will need to budget his co-pay for the blood work visits, and a little extra to cover the lab work AND additional co-pays because I KNOW he is going to get sick several times a year.
5. Set a goal you think is not achievable
Do you think that’s a crazy budget tip? Last year my husband and I took a 31 day no spending challenge, and we were sure it would drive us crazy. BUT, in ONE MONTH we were able to not only meet the goals of the challenge, we saved over $400.00…in a MONTH on an “average” American income and during a holiday weekend!
Your goal could be anything from giving up soda for a month, budgeting a weekend get-away or saving $1,000, but it should be something that will take some sacrifice and make you really believe that what you’re doing is for a reason to give you a result you want! Go ahead, try it, I dare you!
Did you find these Advanced Budgeting Tips helpful? Do you have any advanced tips you would like to see added to this list? (You might be featured in part 2!!!)
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