Have you ever struggled to save money even though you tried your best to track expenses regularly? Or do you find living frugally to save more a bit uncomfortable for you?
Today, Money Lover will introduce you to a personal finance budgeting method that will help you save more without affecting your living standards. There are 4 steps to the method:
- Step 1: Set a Savings Goal.
- Step 2: Make a budget plan.
- Step 3: Track your expenses and budgets.
- Step 4: Adjust your budgets when reality hits.
Now we will go into more details about each of the steps above and how to use Money Lover features to apply this method.
To make things easier, let’s start with an example.
Joe is a school administrator by day but an aspiring chef by night 👩🍳. Creating new dishes has been a passion for Joe since he was 16 years old. Joe wants to sign up for a cooking class at The School of Culinary Arts. However, he’s short on money. His expenses often go out of control, leaving him with little money to save up.
Let’s help Joe (and you!) achieve some goals.
Step 1: Set a goal
Whether it is $1000 in 2 months for a cooking class or a vacation, always set a goal first. Preferably, set a goal that actually matters to you.
First, Joe needs to list out all saving goals and major expenses to pay in the next 3-6 months. Start with a reasonable goal as it will give you morale to establish a habit.
Joe knows that: He needs to save $800 in 5 months for the culinary course His parents is renovating their kitchen and he wants to chip in $200, also in 5 months
Thus, Joe sets a goal to save $1000 total in 5 months (from March 1st to July 31st).
Here is Joe’s Goal Wallet in Money Lover:
Thus, for each month, Joe needs to set aside $200 for his saving goal. His income per month is $800, and therefore he has $600 to spend every month.
Next, Joe (and you!) will create a Basic wallet to manage this $600 available for spending per month.
If when Joe starts this saving plan, he has less than $600 - for example, $500 - to spend for the rest of the month, Joe needs to enter that $500 to the Basic wallet’s balance.
Manage the money we actually have, not the money we expect to have.
This will come in handy in Step 2.
Step 2: Create a budget plan
A budget is a limit you set on your spending. Creating a budget plan is like putting your money in different envelopes: one envelope for Food, one for Bills, one for Fun, etc. When you need to spend, you take the money from the corresponding envelope.
Creating a budget plan helps us understand how we should spend money before actually spending a dime. When you need to pay your bills, you know you have the money.
In the example above, Joe can allocate his money as follows:
His budgets should add up to $600, exactly what he has for monthly spending and no more than that.
In Money Lover, you can create a budget by going to the “Planning” tab > “Budgets” > add a budget.
Joe’s budget plan in Money Lover will look like this:
Step 3: Add transactions and monitor budgets
For example, Joe spent $5 on bus tickets. Joe adds a $5 expense with category: “Transportation” into Money Lover 🚍. Joe’s “Transportation” budget will automatically subtract $5 in the amount he has to spend this month.
Pay attention to the budget’s progress bar (the green/orange bar) and the “Today” mark below:
If the progress bar does not surpass the “Today” mark, Joe can spend more. For example, in the Food & Beverage category, Joe can spend more
If the progress bar exceeds the “Today” mark, Joe needs to curb spending. For example, in the Shopping category, Joe needs to curb his spending. In the next few days, when the “Today” mark surpasses the progress bar, Joe can spend more on Shopping again.
Step 4: Adjusting budgets
Everybody will run into this problem at some point as Joe does:
Joe wants to buy a new frying pan for the cooking class 🍳 However, it will cost $45 and Joe only has $35 left in his Shopping budget to spend
However, Joe’s Transportation budget has $30 left. Joe can move $10 from his Transportation budget to his Shopping budget
When Joe moves money from one budget to another, Joe can still pay for important expenses without exceeding his total budget for the month. Therefore, Joe can still follow his saving plan.
What is important is figuring out your priorities or goals and creating a plan to achieve them. It’s time to take back control of your money! To sum up, there are 4 steps in our method:
- Step 1: Set a savings goal
- Step 2: Allocate your money into budgets
- Step 3: Track your spending and your budgets
- Step 4: Adjust your budgets if necessary
Try this method and share with us your results!