10 tips for a better budget

The first thing you need to learn before making a better budget is how to make a budget in the first place. Then go get a free budget spreadsheet or some free budgeting software. Once you have your budget started, these 10 tips will help you keep it in tip-top shape!

Make a better budget!make a better budget - coins.jpg

1. Know your budget-busters and stay away!

If this is the mall don’t go, if it is QVC, turn it off, if is buying stuff online – throw your computer out the window! (Well, not really 😉 ).

2. Wait before purchasing.

Never buy large purchase items with out waiting a week to really be sure that it is the best use of your money.

3. Budget for Giving.

It makes it a whole heckuva lot more fun to give if you have the money sitting there waiting to be spent.

4. Make budgeting fun.

It is not a diet. Quit telling yourself that budgeting is just like a diet for you checkbook. In my opinion, the reasons that most budgets fail is because they are out of balance. Fun should be budgeted for. Going out to dinner, vacation, date night, etc.

5. Snowball it.

Once a debt is paid off, take that amount and either apply it to another debt (aka Debt Snowball) or to something fun (vacation fund, etc.)

6. Create a misc. budgeting category.

No matter how many categories you create, you can bet that you will have expenses come up that won’t fall into any of them. This is why it is a great idea to have a backup called miscellaneous.

7. Have fun money.

Have some money given to each family member that doesn’t need to be tracked and can be used for whatever he/she wants.

8. Combine budgeting categories.

Try combining categories to simplify the system. For example if you have money budgeted for car maintenance and car insurance, try putting them together in the same category.

9. Set money aside monthly for infrequent bills.

Just because a bill isn’t paid monthly doesn’t mean that it can’t be budgeted for monthly. If you pay car insurance every 6 months, just take that bill and divide by 6, viola! Now add that amount to your monthly budget, and when the next bill comes due, the money will be sitting there waiting!

10. Try budgeting with ING or another online bank.

This way you are earning interest on each one of your budgeting categories. Small amounts add up quick.

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for Bible Money Matters.

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  1. MInTheGap

    Yep, if I did #1 I’d end up not being able to read your site!

    Good list!

  2. bob

    I wouldn’t be able to write it either I guess…

  3. Scott @ The Passive Dad

    #2 Delay a purchase or if you aren’t sure, you can take someone you trust with you. I’m not talking a best friend that would say yes to anything. Maybe a buddy or maybe your spouse. Talk about the item and make sure you really need it. If you don’t, then you can start a budget category for that “fun item”

    Great list you put together. Thanks.

  4. bob

    @Scott and Meg
    great points thanks for sharing. Meg, I really agree with you. There seems to be a huge discrepancy between what we “think” is going on with our money and what “actually” is happening. Until you do some kind of analysis like you mentioned most people just really don’t know. I know personally, no matter how much I think I understand about where our money is going, when I actually look at it itemized, I am always surprised

  5. Hank

    This is a great list! I would even add saving for Christmas and Birthday presents in with #9. If you know that you historically spend $500 on Christmas presents, etc., then you should save about $40 a month or $20 a paycheck to meet that goal. It should be in your budget too!

  6. Jerry

    If you have the flexibility it is best to measure your unfettered spending flow then fine tune down the areas that you can live without. Importing your statement for tracking is the truest way to make a budget happen long term. My MS Money application no longer works so I searched and found a program called bank2budget (www.bank2budget.com). This program cuts my time down in paying bills and tracking expenditures by 90%. I spend about 1 hour a month and can show you trends and many other charts. It requires MS Access version 2002 or higher though. Good luck to us all.

  7. Another great article Bob! I really do agree with Budgeting is just like baking cookies for those who are having hard times in budgeting, just focus on your goal and automatically it will give you more strength to do what you need to do.

  8. Sean Hopcraft

    I really enjoyed this article. The first and most important thing before you begin #1 on this list is you MUST be honest with yourself. Justifying a bad spending habit is not going to help on your “recovery” to get your finances under control. The Bible is filled with so much instruction on money. Why did God put that in there? Because He knew that men would be swayed easily on material wealth.

    Thanks Bob.