For me, budgeting has always been too concerned with the nitty gritty of things that it sometimes failed to see the bigger picture. Why we’re budgeting in the first place. And if I’m honest with you, it wasn’t until recently that I actually started to have a proper budget in place. One that actually works.
I love investing, have done since I was 19, and to me, putting money aside to do just that was the fun part and the one I prioritised. Since I knew I was investing for my future and growing my little nest egg.
But budgeting – now that was bothersome! And I stupidly avoided it all costs. I always knew how much I was investing each month and how much I would need for my expenses. But to tell you the truth, I never calculated that figure to the penny let alone the pound. I sort of assumed I’d always have enough money to last for the month. Until one month I barely did!
But we only really start doing important things aka the things that truly matter when we’re caught in a mess. Like I was that time. So learn from others’ (and my) mistakes so that you don’t have to go through it. Save yourself from all that hassle and stress. (Read here what my worst, most expensive purchase taught me).
Budget to make sure you have money for the stuff that matters
Budgeting is one of those things along with investing and mortgages and pretty much everything pertaining to personal finance that we just aren’t taught in school, or ever really. Britain’s financial literacy (or the lack of it) is a real problem and I just wish we’d add it to our curriculum already.
Anyway thanks to financial literacy’s no-show in our curriculum, what we know (or don’t know) about money is down to our parents, since school doesn’t teach us this stuff. What our parents know we know. And what they don’t know, well, we won’t know.
We’re hugely influenced by their attitudes towards money and the chances are high that if you saw your parents busy with budgeting, investing and the like, chances are you’d do the same. If you have a mum/dad who knows their way around finance, you’re a lucky one. Though read here the hidden downside to being a personal finance guru that no one ever talks about!
But don’t keep it all to yourself! Share it with others and get those convos going. It’s the only way. But either way, now that you’ve found this blog, I can promise you that you’re in a good place!
Before you even start budgeting I recommend writing a list of all your expenses. Then write down how much you’re currently spending per month on discretionary things. You know, the good things in life! Then ask yourself what’s the easiest area you can cut back on?
This will help you spot any weak areas. Areas you’re spending too much on. Like subscriptions, takeouts (I’m certainly guilty of this one!), restaurants or anything else really that you’re dishing out a disproportionate amount on.
The 50-30-20 rule
When it comes to budgeting I’ve found this one tool to be super useful and it also helps remove a lot of the bother and boredom associated with budgeting!
The rule goes like this: you divide your monthly (after-tax) income into 3 categories: needs, wants and investing/saving. I really like this rule because it’s simple and effective. I can’t stand complex processes and procedures! Those never seem to work for me. The simpler the better.
So here it is:
50% goes toward expenses – these are your basic needs and will include everything from your rent/mortgage payment to your groceries and travel costs.
30% goes toward treating yourself – buying things you enjoy like a cheeky takeout here and there, a shopping trip or anything else really that you fancy spending on.
20% goes toward investing/saving – this is the most important part and the part that you should focus on the most and make sure you’re hitting. The more you save and invest, the better off you’ll be.
Most people think that the higher their salary, the richer they’ll be but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. See it’s not about how much you earn, it’s about how much of that you’re actually saving and investing. It’s completely useless to you if you’re earning a fat salary but you go out spending the whole lot! Then, you’ll be left with the same as a low-earner would be left with.
Think of budgeting as a rung on a ladder. You need to climb that rung so that you can get to the next one (saving) and the next one (investing). Without budgeting, you’re spending willy-nilly leaving not much behind! Ultimately, budgeting is what will help you buy that property and save for retirement. Without it, you’d have no clue where your money is going to and how much is actually going! Budgeting sorts that all out.
Getting serious about budgeting will also make you feel like you have your entire life together! I promise you. It’s really simple, yet so effective. Very soon, you’ll start to feel in control of your finances and it’s precisely this that will give you the confidence to take it further by upping your saving and investing goals.
It’s best to budget for fun
As much as it’s crucial to budget so that you can save/invest, I think it’s just as important for you to budget for things you really want to buy/do. Like taking that dream vacay or splurging on a cool new piece of tech. Read here how if you can’t spend now you’ll never be able to and why that’s a problemo.
If the 50-30-20 rule doesn’t work for you but you still wanna budget for the stuff you love, why not do this: each month, as well as noting how much you’ll be investing, spending on expenses and so on, set aside some dosh for splurging-only.
And as the weeks and months go on, you’ll be saving for this one thing, so that you get to enjoy it. Guilt-free! Life would be too boring if we didn’t spend at least some of our money on things that make us feel good. Read here the paradox of spending – why we get the most joy when we can least afford it.
For me, budgeting isn’t about going cold-turkey on the things you love (like shopping, dining out, subscriptions and so on) so that you can save/invest every penny. But rather it’s a way where we get to enjoy things in moderation.
Balance is key and the more you have of something, the less special it becomes. Eventually, after that 5th takeout of the month, you’ll be used to it that it won’t be all that exciting anymore. And the same goes with investing + saving too much leaving you with no disposable income. Plus, we all need some colour and joy in our lives. Especially now.
Enjoy the joy of working toward your personal finance goals and don’t forget to make room for the other things. Like experiences and those feel-good purchases.
They’re important, too and they help us stay motivated and on-track.
On that note, happy budgeting!
Disclaimer: This blog is not investment or financial advice. It is my opinion only. This blog is not a personal recommendation to buy/sell any security, or to adopt any such investment strategy. Always do your own research before you commit to any investment.