Budgets: A Discussion, Tips & Useful Links

Since I’ve been earning a wage (6 years now) I’ve always had a budget in one shape or form – I’m told starting early is ideal, and that’s what I did. Whether I’ve stuck to it or not is a whole different matter. When I finished university I dutifully figured out my money, had a heart attack, and I decided to refresh my knowledge of budgeting.

Useful Links

My Top Tips

If you’ve figured out a budget, great! If you’re having trouble sticking to it however, I’ve got a few tips which I use myself to prevent “wasted” money.

Put it on a wishlist – I try and hold out for Christmas and birthdays with things that aren’t a true need. Plus putting things on a wishlist means you can go back and delete them when you realise you don’t really need them in the first place. It’s all about priorities, which sounds scary and grown up, but it’s really not that bad.

Show it to the other half/a (frugal) friend – I tend to find that when people ask me “why do you want that?” and I not only have to justify it to myself, but someone else as well, if I struggle, I put it back.

Track your spending – I use an iPhone application called Balance which is free and very simple to use. A lot of people are using Mint which interacts directly with accounts and thing. The act of tracking every purchase as I make it means I’m more likely to rethink it – especially when I see what I’ve already spent that month.

I’ve only just started doing this again, but I did track my spending every day for a month a couple of years ago and the results were astonishing (HOW MUCH on chocolate?!). I cannot for the life of me find the post where I added it all up, so you’ll just have to take my word on the chocolate.

De-clutter regularly – I have a comfortably small flat, with acres of storage, but even with this, I find I’m constantly de-cluttering. This in itself makes it more likely for me to think twice about buying something and the de-cluttering means I really see how much I’ve bought. I guess the real tip here is to live somewhere comfortable but not bigger than what you truly need, people fill the space they live in, it’s just natural.

Wait a week – similar to the wishlist tip, waiting a week can be particularly useful for figuring out if you really need something. When I was trying to decide which phone to get, I waited a month to commit to my iPhone – and yes, it was an extravagance, but that level of deliberation meant it was a carefully considered extravagance that I could have backed out of should something more important/better come along.

There are plenty of other tips out there, these are just what I find works for me!