Here at bravely, we love a good budget, and we want to help you love your budget too. Budget isn’t a bad word- in fact, it can be one that sets you free.
Let’s be honest: budgets have a bad reputation. Maybe budgets have burned you in the past. Spreadsheets can be awfully intimidating when you first open one. Maybe you think budgets = the death of fun.
Budgets can be the key to breaking bad financial habits and setting yourself on the path to really reach your dreams. By getting your financial house in order you can unlock new income streams, redirect spending to work for you, and build a savings buffer.
We made things super duper easy for you by creating the Bravely Values Based Budgeting Workbook, which walks you through everything from defining your values to identifying your spending triggers, to atually building out that spreadsheet to live a life you love. Grab it right here!
But there are other things to consider to really love your budget. Having the right spreadsheet is step numero uno in getting your money right. Use these four other steps to help get your money in tip top shape.
Identify Your Money Goals
It’s hard to work towards something if you don’t understand what you want. Saying that you ‘want more money’ is vague and will probably lead nowhere. What do you need more money for? Is it to pay your bills comfortably? Build up savings? Buy a new car?
Be specific about what you want to do with your money. Writing down goals is a great way to clarify what you’re trying to work towards.
Start small: pick two goals that you want to accomplish this year. It can range from paying down your debt to saving money for a trip. Identify your money goals before you take any other step towards achieving them.
Differentiate Between Your Needs and Wants
A need is very different from a want. You need food, a place to live, clothes to wear to work, and a way to get around. You want clothes for a party, a convenient way to get around, and late night snacks.
We’ve identified your basic needs in our spreadsheet, but it’s important to tailor your spreadsheet to your life. Everyone’s financial picture looks different because everyone’s life looks different. If you have a child, childcare might be a need for you, but internet may be a want. If you work from home, internet may be a need, and a car might be a want.
Make a list of things that you would quite literally die without. Those are your needs. Everything else is a want. Once you have your two lists you have the starting point for understanding where you’re spending your money. From here, you can identify areas that you can cut back in to save money.
Steer Clear of Spending Triggers
Spending triggers come for us all. Money is deeply personal on every level and spending triggers are at the heart of that. Understanding what you spending triggers are is the first step to taking control back from them.
Whether it’s stress, your boss coming down hard on you, talking to family, or feeling like you ‘deserve’ something after a long week, spending triggers can cause a lot of financial damage in the long term. You might be able to recover from one shopping spree, but if your don’t get them under control, that one spree will turn into many more.
Once you know what your triggers are, practice avoidance as best as you can. Try stress relievers like aromatherapy and not checking email past 7pm. Make specific plans to talk to family members and don’t let them intrude on unscheduled time. Find a way to reward yourself with hard work that works within your budget.
Create A Space to Save
One of the best and easiest savings tips we can give is to create deliberate places to save. You’ve done all the work to identify goals, separate needs and wants, and squash your spending triggers; now we need someplace to put your money. We recommend doing that by opening up different savings accounts for different goals.
Having a specific account dedicated to ‘Travel’, for example, makes it easier to track your progress on your goal and insures that you won’t get that money mixed up with another goal.
Creating a space for each of your goals will help organize your finances, make it simple to track process, and help you feel good about managing your budget.
When you love your budget, your budget loves you back. Isn’t it time you were one happy couple? Tell us what you love (or hate) about your budget in the comments!