Have you ever sat down to create a monthly budget and become so overwhelmed by how to even start? Everywhere you turn, a new method or app promises to change your financial life — but they often come with a steep learning curve. What is the secret to creating a well-oiled monthly spending plan?
The secret is to make it unique to you and your situation! That’s it. Personal finance is just that: personal. So the way you do it needs to blend seamlessly into your lifestyle, values, and personality. Not the answer you were hoping for? Don’t worry, personalizing your budget doesn’t mean you’re completely on your own here. Get started with these 6 ways to personalize your spending plan
Make it easy to use. If it isn’t simple and easily adaptable into your everyday life, then you won’t use it. Don’t overcomplicate your budget system. Choose a method where you can easily track and manage your budget in a centralized place (like an app, budget binder, or file on a desktop). Sometimes you just don’t need all of the bells and whistles!
Looking for a super user-friendly budget system? Try our cash envelopes!
Align your spending with your values. Where we spend our money is where our values lie. How are your values reflected each month? Maybe you love quiet coffee dates with your bestie each week so naturally, your eating-out budget has some extra cushion. Maybe self-care is important to you, so you won’t forget that “me” money. Be sure your budgeted funds reflect these values.
Establish a system that fits your personality. I am a visual learner. I like to handwrite things. Knowing this about myself, I like to budget in my planner — sometimes with stickers! You might love an excel sheet; that works too. Perhaps, just a sticky note that keeps a running tally is all you need. Whatever it may be, pick a system that works with how you operate.
Control spending. This is the point of a budget; it is a plan for your spending. Be really honest with yourself to address areas of regular overspending, and reign it in.
Automate and copy. Once you have a system in place, make sure it is easy to duplicate month after month. Whether that involves copying and pasting on a spreadsheet, printing out a few of our budget worksheets, or clicking a button on an app like EveryDollar, cloning your budget each month helps you remember category allotments and allows easy editing and adjusting.
Encourage savings. Finally, you’re going to be working toward financial goals for the rest of your life (no pressure), whether that’s saving for retirement, a house, a car, etc. Make sure that your plan for money also accounts for short- and long-term goals and makes savings a priority.
Look, you won’t get it perfect in the first month. It takes an average of three months of budgeting to iron out all of the wrinkles. But keep at it! Keep trying new ways to create a system that works with you and your unique personality. Do you have other tips for fellow budgeters or more questions around tailoring your budget to you? Comment below!
Thanks so much to Dr. Les Dlabay, EdD for the inspiration for this post! Check out his textbook blog here.