You know about the basics of writing a budget. Maintaining a zero balance income, tracking your daily spending, and monitoring your overall process every quarter or so. But do you know how to take it to the next level?
Once the basics start to feel a little boring, it’s important to keep challenging yourself when it comes to managing your money and making progress. That’s where today’s post comes in: three tips for bringing your budgeting to the next level.
Customize your spreadsheet to track everything you care about
Whether you’re using a simple spreadsheet (I like Cait’s spreadsheet, which she lets us use for free) or a pen-and-paper method, you’re tracking your income and expenses and you’ve manipulated some spreadsheet plus and minuses to manage your monthly paychecks. Bravo! The next level is about taking the time to customize your budget even further.
Look into a budgeting software program that will help you get down to the nitty-gritty details (or, on the other hand, one that will let you ignore those details but make more progress).
The key here is that you’re looking for specific numbers you really care about, not just numbers you’re “supposed” to care about, like income and expense. For you, those numbers could be how much debt you’ve paid off over time, or how much debt you have left to pay. Whichever numbers motivate you more, those are the ones to track.
Really think about what you want to spend money on
You might have some fixed costs that aren’t going anywhere (see: college loans, car payment, etc). But what about your food spending? Vacations? Gifts to family members?
The most important thing your money can do for you is take you where you want to be. If you have a partner, sit down and talk about your money. What’s more important to you, being well-travelled or spending money on local and high-quality foods? Do a double check to make sure your budget reflects that intentional choice and you won’t have regrets.
Start tracking seasons, not just paychecks
Christmas budgets are very popular — but consider expanding that to every season coming up that you and your family celebrate. Maybe your family needs a special spring budget because of all the travel you do in the spring. Or, more likely, a special summer budget for birthdays, trips, and vacations. Whatever suits your lifestyle, start planning for it (just don’t expect many others to have a St. Patrick’s Day budget….).
Have you taken your budget to the next level lately? What are you doing differently?