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Budgeting. It’s about as fun as watching a freshly mopped floor dry. However, it comes with far more benefits. So, while we’re not going to encourage you to watch floors (or anything else for that matter) dry, we are going to gently urge that you make budgeting a part of your life. To help make this unglamorous task less boring and, dare we say it, even a little fun, here are four tips everyone should know about budgeting:
1. Secret budget boosters
Just like video games have boxes full of loot or cheat codes to bump up your cash stores, the real world has numerous savvy ways for you to boost your monthly cash flow when needed. While video games require you to bust down walls and break open boxes, real-life cash injections can be found online through reputable organizations offering no interest and low-interest loans. Just be sure to do your research, read all the fine print, and avoid any unscrupulous payday loan schemes.
2. Set up separate accounts for your major expenses
Okay, this one isn’t as much fun as the previous, but bear with us because it can guarantee that you’ll never miss a mortgage or credit card payment. The idea is to have expense accounts into which you can deposit the required amount as soon as you get paid. This dispels the mental “kerching” of internal cash-registers that gleefully chime when your bank account is freshly flush with money. It can be tempting in these moments to think you have enough cash to treat yourself, and perhaps you do. Nevertheless, it’s not worth making that decision without first knowing what you’re truly working with.
If you get paid on the 10th of the month but your mortgage payment comes out on the 27th, you might be feeling rich right up until the day you realize you’re going to fall short of the amount due. This is why it’s better to allocate your expenses as soon as you get paid so you have a true understanding of your spending money for the month.
3. Make it more fun with an online budgeting tool
Literally anything can be improved if it’s turned into a snazzy app complete with user-friendly functionality and appealing aesthetics. If you’re really struggling with the whole budgeting thing, do some research and find a budgeting app or online tool that appeals to you. Many of the best online budgeting tools have features you never would’ve thought of. You can also set them up to give you reminders and help you track your cash flow.
4. Avoid stress with a “budget buffer”
Even the most conscientious budgeters can end up being thrown off by unexpected expenses. It’s all well and good to track your spending, but this doesn’t help when you’re struck by something out of the blue. To prepare yourself for life’s inevitable cash-draining craziness, place some money aside for unexpected expenses. Keep throwing any spare cash you have into this buffer fund.
With a budget buffer, stress doesn’t even need to be a consideration when strange expenses pop up. You’ll know you’ve covered yourself, so you can focus on the situation at hand. Be sure to keep track of what the funds in this category get spent on. If anything comes up regularly, you may want to give it a permanent place in the budget.
Budgeting may never be your favorite activity, but with these tips, at least it can be a little less stressful and even a tiny bit fun!