Smart finance: how to budget and save money
15 May 2020
Financial freedom starts with financial control. Starting with your salary, note down how much you spend every month on expenditures that can be split into Needs, Wants, and Likes and discover how much you have left over at the end of the month—or what you need to cut down on to stay out of the red.
In a world that endlessly tempts us with ads for new smartphones, exotic holidays, and clothing sales, it can be easy to overspend without a budget. So whether you’re moving to a new country, buying a house, getting married, or just getting in control of your finances, here are our five steps to building a budget that makes the most of your money, so you can make the most of life.
1. Understand your spending
You can’t plan a journey unless you know where you’re starting. So first, make a list of all your expenditures—every bill, concert ticket and coffee—and note how much you’re spending on each of those things every month.
There are lots of ways of deciding which of your spending is absolutely necessary and which you could live without, but we recommend these three categories:
- Needs: Things you require to live or unavoidable bills. Food, rent/mortgage, loan payments, that kind of thing. (Be realistic – you need to eat, but not at fancy restaurants!)
- Wants: Things that improve your life, but don’t absolutely need
- Likes: Things you enjoy, but could easily sacrifice
And be honest with yourself—is that thing really a Need, or is it just a Want?
3. Pay your future self
If you have debts, decide what you can afford to pay off each month—the more, the better. If you don’t, decide what you want to save each month, and make it easy with an automatic regular payment. Your future self will thank you.
Compare the rest of your monthly income with your Needs, Wants and Likes. If it won’t cover everything, decide what to sacrifice from the easiest category first – your Likes. Then, if you have to, move on to the Wants list– this should only be necessary if you’re in debt, or you have a long list. When money worries are a thing of the past, you’ll be glad you did this.
You shouldn’t have to constantly think about your budget. Instead, automate things with an app. Mint, You Need a Budget, and Goodbudget are all great free options.
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