Creating a budget can be a tedious and affair that will test your patience and leave even math lovers in despair. But what about those of us that don't like math, aren't good at it or both? We're here to help you folks with some tips that will get you over the math hump and get your monthly finances in order.
Make your budget a priority and get ready to throw as much math as we possibly can out of the process. Finances may be all about numbers, but we can simplify these numbers down quite a bit with just a little effort. It is extremely important for you to master your money and create a system that not only works for you, but one you will stick to in the long term.
Learn to Budget
Budgeting is a system of managing your money and categorizing where every dollar goes. The boredom may already be setting in, but please, hear us out for your own good. The first step to creating a budget is to see where all of your money is going.
There won't be any math involved in this step, so pull out a bank statement and see where your money is going every month. Write down the categories where you are spending your hard earned funds monthly. For example, you'll have categories like utilities, rent/mortgage, food/grocery, car/transportation, and other expenses like entertainment.
It will be best to see where you can cut expenses at this point too. You may find things you don't want to be paying for like old subscriptions or fees that you didn't know were being charged. This part of the process shines a light on all of your finances and lets you take an accurate picture of where you stand right now.
Use a Budgeting App
Once you have a strong idea of where your money goes each month, you may be ready to create a budget using an app or software. These apps will help you to calculate where your money is going without you pulling out a calculator and scratch paper. Here are a few examples of budget helpers:
- YNAB(You Need A Budget)
All of these will help you to get your finances in order, with a plug and play system. In other words, plug your financial numbers in and they will help track your spending and give you a remainder. Each of these examples has a different system of tracking, but once you get accustomed to a system you prefer, stick with it.
These also are not the only budget tools out there. There are apps on your smartphone that will be free and give you the basic budgeting you need. The key is to find one that gives you the tools necessary with as little math involved as possible.
A System of Overestimating
Some of those budgeting tools have a cost associated with them. Another pitfall can be that you just aren't too tech savvy. So then what do you do? In these cases, you're just going to have to get that calculator and scratch pad out. Never fear though! Remember, we're trying to simplify the budget and take as much math out as possible, no matter what method you use.
Now that you have broken down all of the categories in your monthly expenses, you can focus on simplifying them down to round numbers. For example, if you want to budget your utilities, add up all of them on the calculator and then add some extra cushion on top.
Ugh, that hurt a little bit. Now that the math part is over we can create our budgeting system of overestimating our expenses. We have a grand total of 296.23 that was due in our example month. For future monthly expenses we want to budget a dollar amount a little above what all of those expenses could be.
Budget amount: 340.00
This will make sure it covers any variances within the utility costs themselves. You never know how many showers you may take one month, but you can budget a little extra just in case. Once you have done this for all of your expenses, you have created a simple budget that should leave you with leftover funds each month.
Put Your Budget on Autopilot
The final tip is to set things up and forget them. Ok, not quite that simple, but it will take some of the stress out of a monthly budget. Almost all bill pay systems or the billers themselves will have an autopay system.
This will allow you to have the funds withdrawn automatically each month when they are due. But before you run off and sign up for each one of these, revisit the category expenses you first jotted down. Add all of those up and make sure that number is smaller than what is coming in each month.
Also make sure that you are scheduling these payments when the money is coming in. The good part about this budget is setting it up once and then checking back on it every once in awhile. While you have to do a little math in the beginning, you are not constantly calculating your expenses.
Create a savings account to catch all of the leftover money after your automatic payments go through and you are on the fast track to financial health, with very little math required.