Updated: January 24, 2019
It’s ironic that most people will say that budgeting is important, but only a few will actually create and religiously follow one.
Tracking your expenses and sticking to a financial plan can be a challenge at first, but I will tell you now that – it gets easier through the years.
In fact, it only takes me around 15 minutes to create a monthly budget today because it’s almost automatic already in my simple Excel spreadsheet.
And being conscious with my spending has become a habit that I no longer need to exert much effort to control buying on impulse.
Today, guest writer, Sandy Lee tells us how she got started on being money smart and successfully built her savings slowly, but surely over time.
Let’s read her story below.
When I first received my paycheck, I felt an overwhelming surge of power in my fingertips. While I was giving my very first envelope a sneak peek, I had a feeling that I could buy all the things that I wanted.
After putting aside my budget for the next two weeks, I did what most people normally do: splurge on things I haven’t tried yet. New clothes, icy coffee from Starbucks, free-flowing drinks at the best bars in Makati, savory meals – I went on a splurging spree with reckless abandon.
Just a few days after my very first payday, I looked at my wallet and took a big sigh; I found out that a huge part of my salary flew away in a matter of days.
Two days before the next payday, I was broke and had to borrow PhP 500 from my grandmother just to be able to go to work! And unfortunately, this went on for months, where days before payday always become a tough moment for me.
So where did I go wrong? Was it because I did not resist the urge to spend on things I wanted to do? Or was my salary not enough to sustain both my wants and needs?
Turns out, I was bad at handling money. My salary should be more than enough to sustain my wants, needs, and should have ample leeway for me to have savings every month.
Sadly, I had no idea how to manage my salary in the first place. Budgeting is something I never really learned, not from home, not from school, and definitely not from the workplace.
How was I able to turn around my situation?
Fortunately, budgeting is not so hard, so long as you have the willpower to do so and the knack to go the extra mile. While initially I never really had it in me, adding a few activities in my routine as well as changing some of my perspectives regarding money helped.
Here are just some of the budgeting tricks that worked for me…
To begin with your journey towards budgeting, the very first thing you need to do is to determine your income and your monthly expenses. Put your budget on paper and allow yourself to see your money from a different perspective.
That is, before you get all hyped up with budgeting, start with the most basic calculations: your net income minus priority expenses such as bills, debt payment, and other necessities. The difference from the said formula will allow you to allocate enough budget for other expenses like entertainment, dining, and others.
Once you’ve reached the figures for your monthly budget, you can determine how much you can allocate for your unnecessary expenses. While it is tempting to put them all in a bank for rainy days, it is better if you give yourself some room to splurge.
Contrary to popular belief, having a few rounds of beer every now and then or buying new threads every payday is healthy to your budgeting mindset.
This will allow you to check your shopping urges and make you more responsible when it comes to splurging. Just make sure that you won’t go beyond your splurging budget or you’ll definitely have problems in the future.
Although I advise spending a little bit for your personal satisfaction, it is highly recommended to save a portion of your income in a savings account, preferably at least 20 percent of your total monthly income.
The idea of putting money in the bank may be a bore to some, but when put in perspective, you can make savings less of a burden and more of a reward.
Instead of seeing it as a monthly chore, think of it as a monthly payment to your future self. As a personal success tip, create a separate account for your savings, preferably a checkbook account so you can resist the temptation of taking something out of your savings.
Having a savings account is a good thing, but keeping a savings account while you have outstanding debts is a cause for worry, especially if your debts have interests.
To make sure that your debts will never suck your budget towards a gravitational disaster, give your debts a higher paying priority. Debts, when settled alongside other financial plans, can create a tremendous impact on your monthly budget.
Moreover, you may not know it, but you can also use your gadgets to make budgeting much more convenient. Smartphones are a great daily companion in making sure that we are getting our finances in tip-top shape.
Financial comparison website eCompareMo.com recommended using apps such as MoneyWise for calculating your monthly budget, Tricount for dividing expenses among groups of people, Check for automated payment of bills, and Savings Made Simple for simple financial goals.
These apps are available locally, and fully utilizing these apps will give you control over your finances.
Did these steps really help me manage my personal finances better?
When I tried these budgeting techniques, things changed little by little. At first, I was able to stretch my budget until next payday without going over my limit.
Eventually, I was able to settle my debts to my friends and relatives little by little, until within a year, I was able free myself from the shackles of debt.
Finally, little by little my savings grew, even if I was just allocating around 20 percent of my salary. For the first time in my life, I finally felt a bit of freedom – financial freedom.
Although I still have a long way to go from becoming a multi-millionaire, doing the said financial tips gave me a sense of direction when it comes to handling my finances.
However, keep in mind that your mileage may vary when following the said steps. While these have worked for me, it doesn’t mean that you will get the same results as I do.
Keep in mind that the key point here is knowing how to allocate your monthly budget correctly, and the rest will be easy.
About the author:
Sandy Lee is a twentysomething dreamer who worked at an outsourcing firm prior to landing a job as a marketing assistant in Makati. Aside from writing, which is her first love, Sandy is also in love with sketching, film photography, and cinema. You will see her frequenting vintage shops in Cubao Expo, poring on old photographs and decades-old copies of National Geographic.
Photo credit: taxrebate.org.uk