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“Budgeting is too difficult!”
That’s one of the most common reasons why many people don’t budget. They either don’t understand what a budget is or they truly don’t know how to efficiently put one together.
We want to help you see that budgeting is much easier than you might have experienced. It’s not scary at all! Budgets don’t have to be about complicated formulas and tedious math. Just like many other aspects of your life, keeping it simple usually works wonders.
Here are five basic, proven ways to simplify your budget.
1. Make a schedule (and stick to it!)
While you’re making the budget part of your monthly routine, why not pick specific dates for other expenses? Set up auto drafts out of your checking account to pay bills, and buy your groceries on a set day every week or twice a month—preferably, when the kids aren’t around to tell you all about how awesome the new Chocolate King Crunch Sugar Bits cereal is!
When you know what to expect and when to expect it, you take a lot of stress and potential pitfalls out of the picture.
2. Make it a team effort.
If you’re married, then it’s important to make sure your spouse is on board and knows what’s up with the budget. You’re just asking for problems when one spouse is doing all the planning and the other spouse is doing all the spending.
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Sit down once a month and have a budgeting talk. Make it fun! Chow down on some of your favorite drinks and snacks to help you focus. The important thing here is that you’re both on the same page. That change alone will make your life—and your money—much easier to manage.
Related: How to Make Getting Out of Debt Fun for the Whole Family
3. Expect the unexpected.
You have your month planned to a T, but, inevitably, something comes up. Maybe it’s an unexpected invite to a birthday dinner or an office baby-shower gift you’ve been asked to help with. You want to participate but you’re left trying to fit birthday dinners into your grocery budget and baby showers into entertainment. That’s not going to work.
Create a buffer in your budget by putting a small amount aside for unexpected expenses throughout the month. That way, when something comes up, you can cover it without taking away money you’ve already put somewhere else in the budget. Keep track of expenses that frequently end up in this budget category. Eventually, you might want to promote them to a permanent spot on the budget roster.
4. Cut up your credit cards.
The great thing about a debit card? It comes straight out of your bank account. There’s no middleman charging 15% interest.
No credit cards means no more bills to add to the budget, fewer complications, and zero worries about fees and high interest rates. Stick to using your debit card (and even cash!), and dump those credit cards like your ninth-grade boyfriend.
5. Get rid of the paper pile.
Maybe you have a stack of receipts you've been meaning to track to your budget all month.
Be intentional about scheduling a few minutes at the end of each day to record your transactions in EveryDollar so they don't pile up. Or make it even easier on yourself by switching to EveryDollar Plus. With Plus, you can stream transactions from your bank so you don't even need to keep your receipts!
Just drag, drop and you're done!