June 12, 2017

Additional Interesting Budgeting Ideas

A couple months ago, we started this series on budgeting by presenting our distinctive way to Enjoy the Pleasures of Budgeting.

Last time, we talked about How Budgeting Can Be So Simple and Easy as even children can have fun with it.

Today, a more profound look at budgeting will propose interesting advanced budget ideas.

So, let’s cut to the chase and get right to it!

Additional Budget Tips

Before spending any of your hard-earned cash, you should always ask yourself this vital question: 
Do I really need it?

As we already talked before, in our consumption-driven society, a lot of people seem to crave high-ticket items and end up buying plenty of useless stuff.

To address this bad habit and improve deficient buying decision making, we like to convert possible purchases into working hours.

For example, let’s say that after taxes, you earn 25$/hour and you wish to buy a new 1000$ TV. By the way, you pay for things after the taxmen (not only taxman) have taken their share. So, buying this 1000$ TV will cost you 40 hours (1000 divided by 25) or a whole week of hard work.

With that different perspective, maybe you’ll realize the TV you already got at home still works just fine and you are not willing to sweat out 40 hours for a brand new one. Sure your used TV may be a little smaller but you’ll still be able to enjoy your favourite hockey game on it.

By the same token, you’ll also realize that, the 4000$ even-nicer-looking state-of-the-art TV with all those gadgets you probably won’t use anyway would represent a whole month of your (working) life. Wouldn’t it be better to work less and to live more?

Some people react as wisely using this complimentary question: Can I afford it?

Ultimately, all these sensible questions can help you spend more wisely. You’ll keep your budget on the positive side and even maybe start building up nice savings.

When you think about it, living happy is much more about having interesting experiences than buying stuff. Great experiences don’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money but to some degree, all activities involve monetary considerations, even those where you only invest time, because your time is precious and as the now classic expression says: time is money.

In that sense, incorporating your dreams and projects in your budget planning can be a wonderful idea. It could mean exciting trips, time to write a book, spending more quality time with your children or grandchildren, etc.    

Understanding how much valuable time you can lose working to pay for useless things and having your own stimulating projects in mind can motivate you a great deal. That powerful motivation could lead you to earn more and to spend less. After a while, it can even enable you to save and improve your freedom to choose your own destiny.

All of this may sound great but it can be overwhelming and somewhat out of reach to many of us. Looking at your present financial situation may be demoralizing.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, there’s no point in bashing yourself for what happened earlier in your life. You can give yourself a break. The important thing is that everybody can improve by learning from mistakes of the past.

You have to realize that in a very bad situation, oftentimes, things can only get better. A budget that reflects your actual personal situation, as bad as it may seem, can help you change and get back on the right track. Learn to use your own budget as a tool to seize opportunities to improve. Many opportunities exist, you just have to identify them and take advantage of them to progress little by little.

Hence, setting objectives to gradually improve after assessing the initial situation can be a very efficient and motivating approach. You’ll find it very refreshing to take small steps toward you ultimate goals and dreams.

In the 12-Minute Fashion, we found out that establishing aggressive yet attainable targets and breaking down the whole process into 12 main steps can give you excellent results in the end. You still have to make sure to adjust some objectives as you monitor your progress along the way. Remember to reward yourself and take a breather at key stages. Also account for some time to adapt to this new yet powerful way to envision things.

With our experience exploiting the 12-Minute Method, we have learned that, in most cases, an almost immediate bold 12% spending cut is attainable. The next 12% step can take much more time to implement but its effects can be much more durable and sustainable. Using 12 days, 12 weeks and 12 months as key periods can also help maximize results.

Another way to successfully motivate yourself is to look at what inspiring people have done and are still doing. This is true in many fields but getting inspiration from others is especially effective when it comes to budgeting.

For instance, the Web is full of inspirational success stories. It also presents a variety of budget examples and practical budgeting and saving ideas.

Various personal finance blogs and forums allow you to ask budgeting questions and to get a sense of other people financial experiences. It can be very reassuring knowing ordinary folks like you already achieved it.

Be careful, some extreme savers can be a little intimidating. Many of you may get discouraged as you won’t be able to accomplish the same as them or attain impressive goals as quickly. Just remember that even if you may not be able to compete with them, they can still provide great tips and interesting motivational stories. In the end, the secret is to translate those wonderful ideas to your own situation. They will often give you the extra push to get started or to keep going.

Speaking of a motivational boost, a lot of support groups out there can also help you a lot. Oftentimes, support from strangers can be much more useful as it can give you a break from bad budgeting habits inherited from your family or entourage.

Our last but not least important budgeting tip is to return to it on a regular basis. It can be much easier to work on it investing less time more often. Budget tasks can become overwhelming if you wait too long and accumulate them but can be a breeze if you regularly spend only a few minutes here and there on them.

As a real-life illustration of this principle, we use a basket beside the family computer where we gather receipts and financial papers. When we have a moment to process an item, we consolidate it with our budgeting software (a simple Excel worksheet) and file it if necessary. It’s really easy to keep things up to date using that method.   

We prefer to handle a few items almost each day than a whole bunch every week or every month. You know what should work for you but we don’t recommend delaying data entry and filing over more than a week.

Getting your budget tasks done whenever you have a couple minutes on hand should lessen the burden and keep you motivated to stay on top of things. It should be relatively simple and easy assuming you have an efficient filing system in place.

Corrections and adjustments are also much easier to implement if your financial affairs are up to date. Frequently revising your initial projections and assumptions along the way will maximize the usefulness of your budget.

That’s all from us for now. We hope our budgeting talk has been motivating and insightful to you. Feel free to comment and share your own budgeting preoccupations, tips and victories!   

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