25 Best Budget Hacks for Beginners

So many people hold ill feelings to that six-letter word.  You know.  The ever so restrictive, unachievable, hard to grasp, math-phobic BUDGET!

Let me help you create a budget with these budget hacks.  

Can I be honest with you?  A budget is just knowledge.  It’s knowledge about how much money you have coming in and deciding IN ADVANCE what you want to do with that money—deciding where it’s going at the beginning of the month instead of wondering at the end where it all went!

With every new project that you tackle, there must be a plan. If you are building a house, you have a blueprint. You might be baking a cheesecake; there’s undoubtedly a recipe. 

If you are sewing a dress, you have a pattern. When you have never created something before, without a plan, it will probably not go so well.  Imagine that dress?

 

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How to get started with a budget.

Less than one-third of Americans use a budget, and 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, meaning seven out of ten people are in big financial trouble if one paycheck doesn’t come through.

One of the essential elements needed before you even search for budgeting hacks is to have the right mindset.  You need to be brave and face the unknown to find the right personal finance life for you.

I think of a football coach psyching his players up before the big game.  You need to be in the right frame of mind to “tackle” that budget for the first time.  It’s going to be exhilarating, educational, and scary – all at the same time.

But without the proper state of mind, it’s just going to be easier to put it off then face it.

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What is a budget?

It isn’t as awful as you may think.  

It’s just an estimate of money coming in and money going out within a specific period.

It’s just a plan for your money.  Call it a blueprint, a recipe, or a pattern.  It is a guide that you create one time, tweak it as necessary each month, and then follow it.  You need to create a budget.

I am not new to budgeting.  I have been doing it for a long time, and I have come to a place where it is second nature.  In my budget binder, there are forms I have created that I use every month to keep track of bills.  

If you are new to budgets, these budget hacks are an excellent place to start.

Check out these top budgeting tips.

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Organizing and making budgeting fun.

The cash flow organization is an important step in this budget lesson.  Gathering up all of your bills and receipts and storing them all in one place, so you are ready for the work that needs to be done. 

Try making budgeting fun.  Depending on your organizing personality, a shoebox, and a spiral notebook might d.  Others of us need binders, folders, accordion files, color-coordinated pens, and a pretty file box to put it all in. 

I urge you to find these supplies around your house.  Please don’t go out and buy anything.  You are broke here!  Use what you have and make due until you find some order in your mess.  Later, you can create a fund for pretty office supplies!

Others like apps or spreadsheets on a computer to d their budgets.  And if you can find a system that will help you in making budgeting fun, then I say go for it.

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Creating A Budget

 

Calculate your income for the month.

 Add up all income from jobs as well as government benefits and child support. This includes any regular bonuses or side hustle money.

 

Add up all your monthly expenses.  

This might take a few days.  I know for me, there are always those few that I forget about.  The ones that auto pay right out of the account are forgettable.

This also might be hard to face.  Many who don’t know where their money is going might be shocked at this part.  Stay strong. 

 

Subtract your expenses from your income.  

If you have money left over, you are on the right track.  If you are in the negative (like many of the population), you need to do some work.

 

Incorporate a spending freeze.  

Stop all spending unless it is life or death necessary.  You need to reign in all spending.  You can find some more information on how to do a spending freeze HERE.

 

List your bills most important to least critical.  

Think about your four walls first.  Pay rent or mortgage first, the electric and heat next.  Then take care of transportation because most need a vehicle to get back and forth to work.  Don’t forget gas and insurance in there.

Food is a part of this step, but lets only buy the necessities to get through the next weeks.  Then list other debts in order most important to least.  As money comes in, pay them in this order.  

You might find that student loans are not the most important, but they do need to be paid.  So they might fall someplace in the middle.

You might find that cable tv isn’t significant to your life, but the internet is.  Cancel tv!  You may find that gym membership can be put on hold for a while until you figure this out.

 

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Trim the expenses.

Stop eating out.  Cancel cable.  Inform that teen its time for a job to help pay his way.  Whatever you have decided is unnecessary, get rid of it.

Plug all your numbers into a budget.  Whether you find a free printable one online, use a yellow legal pad and pencil, or try a free budgeting software like Mint or Every Dollar.

Now revisit this EVERY.  MONTH. Consistency is key here!!

Make adjustments as needed.  It is going to take about three months to get a feel on this whole budget thing.

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Why do you need a budget?

As I stated before, to create a budget is about knowing how much money you have coming in, telling it where to go, and not wondering where it went. 

Taking control of your money with these budget hacks will give you the peace of mind and authority where there was none before.

It is about putting yourself in the driver’s seat, being the boss of your own money, and getting to decide what is essential for you in your life.

This is the beginning of financial bliss.  Knowing your numbers and seeing what you are spending your money on is the best way to allow yourself to imagine how you want to live your life and then actually making that happen.  

Creating and sticking to a budget will improve your life.

Budgets are the roadmap to happiness, as long as you are driving that bus!

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25 Best Budget Hacks

Use Cash.  

It feels different to use cash.  Studies show it’s harder to spend money when its cash.  Check out this article for more information on the cash envelope wallet: Cash Envelope Wallets That Will Make You Want To Use Cash.

 

Keep Savings in Separate Bank Account.  

Out of sight, out of mind.   Consider not only a separate account but an independent bank.  I use the Capital One 360 account.  You can read more here: What Is The Most Challenging Part Of Saving Money?

 

Make a Grocery List.  

Always make a list for the grocery stores before you go.  This way, you will not forget things and have to go back.  That never ends cheaply.

 

Cancel Memberships Not in Use.  

You know all those memberships that come out of your account every month.  Gym, streaming services, car washes.  Cancel those if you aren’t using them.

 

Save Your Change.  

Get a jar and start dumping your change in there when you clean out your purse.  Look around the house for all those other spots that might be collectors for coins.

 

Keep Receipts.  

Not only can you use these to track your spending, but you can also have them handy when you want to take back that $90 sweater when it doesn’t fit the way you thought it would.

 

Buy in Bulk.  

Be smart about this.  Some things are not a bargain when purchased in bulk.  Do the math and decide if it’s right for your food budget.  

You can check out this article about warehouse stores here: How Warehouse Stores May Blow Your Mind And Save Your Cash!

 

Buy Multi-Use Items.  

This could be so many things.  Buying a whole chicken and stretching it for more than one meal.  A coat with a zip-out liner for more than one season.  

My Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a rice cooker, and a yogurt maker.  Check out this article about the best instant pot knockoffs: 4 Best Selling Instant Pot Knock-Offs.

 

Cook From Scratch.

 Make your cookies, pizza, and even bread. Its always cheaper to bake then buy those pre-portioned packages of cookies.

 

Turn Down Hot Water.  

Just a few degrees lower on your water heater can really make a difference.

 

Meal Plan.  

When you know what’s for dinner, you can’t fall victim to last-minute take out.  Check out this article about meal planning: What Is Reverse Meal Planning And Will It Save Money?

 

Delete Card Numbers Online.  

Some sites will allow you to save your payment card on their websites for faster checkout.  This may make it easier to spend money. If your card is not saved and you need to pull it out of your purse or wallet, you might think twice about the purchase.

 

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Keep Food Stockpile.  

Having extra food is a good idea.  You never know when you might run into an emergency, get sick, or just can’t leave your home to buy more food.  Check out this stockpile article: 37 Frugal Pantry Staples On A Small Budget.

 

Unsubscribe From Shopping Emails.

I’m a sucker for a good Land’s End sale.  So I need to unsubscribe to their emails every time.

 

Use Coupons.  

Coupons can save you money on personal care items and food.  Check out this article about couponing for beginners.

 

Automate Savings.  

Have your savings automatically go into your savings account for unexpected expenses.  Either add your savings directly to that emergency fund from your check or your checking account as soon as possible. 

If you don’t see it, you won’t miss it.  Look for one with a high-interest rate.

 

Buy Cheap Foods.  

Using less expensive foods combined with the most nutritious can give you a balanced diet.  Check out this article on cheap groceries: 37 Cheap Groceries to Buy When You’re Broke.

 

Barter for Services.

We do this often for friends of ours that have skills we do not.  Homemade Lasagna and fresh bread in return for a new wifi router set up.  Hemming a dress in return for baked brownies. It works well.

 

Shop Generic.

 Most people cannot tell the difference.  Its substantial savings, so give it a try.

 

Ask for Discounts.  

Many times, places will give you a discount for using cash or if something is a bit damaged.

 

Shop Once a Month.  

Grocery shopping, Target runs, and BJ’s have all been getting done lust once a month these days.  It is saving me gas and money.  Here is an article on once a month grocery shopping: 19 Easy Tips for Your Once a Month Grocery Shopping Trip

 

Cut up Credit Cards.  

The best way to get ahead of that credit card debt is to stop using them.  If you are finding that hard to do, cut them up. 

Many would agree that having credit will increase your credit score and decrease your interest rates. But if you are struggling with debt, this is the least of your worries right now.

 

Walk Instead of Drive.  

If you live in an area where this will work for you, it’s a great money saver.  If you have a city bus system, this is also a great option.

 

Automate Bill Pay.  

No more late feed if you just let the payments come right out of your account when they are due.

 

Utilize the Library and Youtube.

 If it were up to me, we would have no cable tv.  You can find all the books you need and all the quality screen time for free.  Who needs HGTV, anyway, right?

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Final thoughts on the best budget hacks…

There are excellent budget hacks available without a lot of time or a lot of money.  Organizing your finances and practicing sound money management first will set you up for success!

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