Having trouble setting and sticking to a budget? Aiming to find a path to financial wellness in the new year?
Like anything else, good financial management is a habit. And the right tool can make a considerable difference. Gone are the days of paper checkbooks and ledgers; even computer spreadsheets can prove inconvenient, often requiring too much time to create and maintain. A powerful yet user-friendly app will help you keep your spending on track.
Why is budgeting important?
Budgeting matters because it ensures you can meet your expenses week-to-week and month-to-month. It’s also a way to plan ahead for unanticipated expenditures that might crop up in the future. Setting money aside for car repairs, household maintenance, medical bills, and similar emergencies prepares you for the unexpected without compromising on other necessities. When applied over the long term, budgeting gives you the ability to establish savings accounts, make solid investments, and achieve long-term goals, such as buying a home, getting a degree, or raising a child.
All that takes organization and planning, but with practice, it will become a regular part of your routine. Creating a budget and sticking to it ensures you (a) don’t overspend, (b) get into the habit of living below your means, and (c) stop spending your hard-earned dough on things you don’t really need.
Power tip: Evernote’s personal Well-Being templates are ideal for organizing and adhering to a personal budget. They include features allowing you to plan, track spending habits, and identify problem areas for course correction.
The challenge of planning for expenses
Did you know the typical American consumer makes 156 impulse buys every year, spending an average of $450 a month on unplanned purchases?
Yes, everyone’s budget is as unique as they are. However, many budgeting challenges are quite common and can easily be addressed with proven techniques. These include:
- Setting due dates. Many people struggle to pay their bills on time. On the most basic level, a budget should determine when bills and household expenses are due, and when paychecks and other resources arrive to pay them.
- Establishing long-term goals. It’s easy to lose sight of next year when you’re focused on this month. So while you have to address the here and now, it’s important to set clear objectives for your overall financial health. If you don’t have clear goals in mind, you can quickly forget why you created a budget in the first place. Include concrete steps (such as saving a certain amount each month) to get there.
- Estimating a spending allowance. Everyone has a tendency to spend on things they want but don’t need. This practice can potentially wreck a budget unless you allocate a certain amount for non-essentials, like entertainment or a gym membership.
- Avoiding debt. It can be very easy to ring up debt on credit cards when things are tight. The more studiously debt can be avoided, the healthier the long-term financial outlook.
Power tip: Missing a payment can be disastrous for your personal finances. Use Tasks in Evernote to keep track of when expenses are due, and set and monitor your spending priorities. This makes sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Plan things out with templates
No need to reinvent the wheel. Using a template, you can check out what works for others, borrow their approach, then customize it to your unique situation. Find one that fits your circumstances and tailor it to make the specifics of your budget work.
By using the bare-bones framework from a template, then building on it to match your needs, you develop a tool that works for you. Fine-tuning it as you go means it can work for all kinds of budgeting needs, whether it’s household expenses for a fiscal year or planning a big event like a wedding or a vacation.
Power tip: Use Evernote’s budget templates to plan expenses, budget accordingly, and develop a system of spending for a better way to manage your money. Customers on paid plans can even create custom templates out of their notes. This provides a structure for you to build upon any way you choose, as well as keeping different budgets separate without sacrificing accessibility.
Find a guide on your budgeting journey
The new year is fast approaching, along with tax season and a new set of fiscal priorities. On top of that, the holidays often put real stress on household budgets, with extra expenses and unanticipated costs. That makes the holidays a great time to set up a digital budget planner, especially for the two-thirds of Americans who don’t even have a budget!
A budget can help you plan for and cover the costs of the holidays, and set you up for smart fiscal planning in 2022. For parents with teens, college kids, or recent grads, it’s also the perfect opportunity to start talking about what goes into a budget. Setting one up on an app they can access with their phone or laptop is an excellent way to start instilling these important life skills.
Adopting a digital approach to budgeting adds flexibility without sacrificing personalization. Start tracking your finances effectively, keep your budget planning simple, compare expectations with reality, and continue to refine that plan. A sensible budget is the first step toward financial wellness and a better future.