By: Tasha Killian, Extension Assistant Professor
February 9, 2021
2021 started a few weeks ago, and I am sure lots of people set the goal of spending their money in a better way and setting a budget. However, if you are like many people (myself included) the idea of budgeting seems overwhelming and makes you feel anxious. It can seem impossible to lay out a budget and stick to it. However, there are some things you can do to help you build budgeting skills. I’ve listed just a few I’ve used below.
- Track your spending. This might be the simplest budget practice but is also one of the best starts. You can track your spending by using apps or reviewing your statement at the end of a month. Although tracking your spending may not seem like budgeting, it is the first step to gaining control of your financial situation. If you do not know where your money is going, it is a lot harder to make plans with it.
- Track your bills. Like tracking spending, it can be helpful to track what your bills are each month. Do you spend $15 on subscriptions? Are you paying for services you do not use/ need? Is your rent, utilities, insurance a fixed rate, or does it change month to month? Being able to track is one of the best skills when starting a budget.
- Categorize wants and needs. To start this, make a T-chart. Label one side needs, and one side wants. Your needs might include shelter, food, insurance, etc. Your wants might include treats, outings, new clothing, etc. Once you have made this chart, write money values by the things listed out and figure out if there are any wants that can be crossed out and that money given to needs.
- Make your savings automatic. You have probably heard this tip before, but it is a good one. There are ways to set it up so that you can have a percent of your money filtered automatically into a savings account. This helps to streamline the process, so you don’t have to worry about having enough to save at the end of the month.
- Split your goal in half. I know this sounds counter-productive, but according to research shared by Jon Acuff in his book “Finish”, people who cut their overall goal in half were more likely to finish (Acuff, 2018). That is because it wasn’t as great of a task and smaller tasks are much easier to accomplish than large ones. So, if budgeting or saving, or cutting down spending seem like large goals, cut them in half and work on a smaller task, eventually leading you to your overall goal
Setting financial goals and starting out budget can seem scary and can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. By trying out and starting with these small skills it is much easier to build out and stick to a budget in the long run.
Acuff, J. (2018). Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done (Reprint ed.). Portfolio