Give up your lattes. Cut up your credit cards. Save 12% of your income. We’ve all heard these types of tips and tricks to get you on a path to good financial health, but not many of them seem to be really effective for most people. Why do you think that is? Well, it’s like saying you’re going to lose 20 pounds, but the way you’re going to do that is to cold-turkey cut out sugar, dairy, gluten, and all other comfort foods. Yes, you’ll probably lose 20 pounds pretty quickly, but is it the most livable and sustainable way to do it? Probably not (unless you’ve just got a super-human level of self-discipline). Most of us need to start slow and just work on developing consistent, healthy habits.
The same thing goes for your financial health. You could go crazy and give up everything you love in order to meet your savings goal, but you probably won’t stick to it because you’ll feel deprived of the things that you love (like your Monday morning latte). The key to budgeting success? Start slow. Find a simple, easy-for-you-to-follow trick to get you started. Then, as you succeed and remain consistent, add in a few more good financial habits. The key is consistency and finding those small habits that work well for you.
Not sure where to start? Our team at UB has chimed in with some of their best budgeting tips, tricks, and hacks to help you get started.
- Keep spending and bill money separate. “The budget tip that is the most effective for me and my financial situation is that when I get paid, I take half of what my total bills are for the month and put it into a separate account. Then everything left over is for food and entertainment. This has been the only method, for my personality type, that will keep me from spending everything. If I see my balance is less, I’m less likely to make impulse purchases.” -Garrett Best, Financial Services Representative at the Joyce location.
- Create the habit of saving slowly. “I always had a hard time saving money because I felt like I needed to dump $150-200 into my savings each month, but then I’d end up having to pull it back out for random expenses I hadn’t accounted for. I saw on a budgeting blog once that you should start really small and commit to saving something you know you won’t miss, like $20-30. Set it up to auto-transfer to your savings account on payday. Then, every 2-3 months, increase that amount by $5. You’ll have less of a hard time adjusting to a loss of $5 in your bank account and can sustain that level of savings over time. It’s been a game changer for me.” -Casey Wood, Marketing Coordinator.
- Make your savings off-limits. Tonya Smith, Loan Assistant at the UB Joyce location, puts her savings into an account that can’t be touched without penalty, such as a Certificate of Deposit or Christmas Club account. Knowing there’s a financial penalty to using that money deters her from accessing her savings for things that don’t help her meet her financial goals.
- Plan ahead for predictable large financial purchases. This seems like an obvious suggestion, but it’s actually something a lot of people struggle with. Keeping larger financial costs, such as personal property taxes and Christmas gifts, on your radar is a must. Saving for those expenses over several months will help reduce the last minute stress of coming up with that money or using a credit card to cover it. One of our commercial lenders, Chris Hawkins, sets aside 3% of each of his paychecks to cover Christmas gifts for his family each year. Combine this trick with number 1, and you’ll be less likely to dip into this money for impulse purchases.
- Write it down and round it up. “One thing that has really worked for me is to actually write down what goes in and out of my bank account, but I round my change down or up to the nearest dollar to create a cushion and help me save money. It’s easy not to think about a few cents here and there, and I can save a bunch by not even paying that much attention.” -Lindsey Stuttle, Compliance Officer