Personalfinance tips

Use Realistic Targets For Flexible Expenses

One of the great budgeting tips and tricks when budgeting is to use realistic targets for flexible expenses. While you build your budget, you will have to take into account what target to use for flexible expenses. These would be the expenses they vary from month-to-month such as your water bill, clothing, household maintenance costs, and electricity. These amounts will change every month such as your grocery bill.  There are ways how to save money on groceries that will yield a reduction in expenses for this category. One way to address this is to use the average of three months worth of these expenses.  This strategy would work well for things such as clothing or smaller purchases such as things like Starbucks for coffee in the morning. For things such as your electric bill and your natural gas bill for your furnace, using a three-month average would not be the best way to go. This is because your electric bill will have seasonal changes so will your natural gas bill if that is what you use for your furnace. For these types of expenses, it is better to use the highest monthly expense and use that amount  for the whole year for every month. This is covered a little bit in more detail with our next tip.

Include Your Cash Transactions as Monthly Expenses

Every month I end up spending cash on certain things that I purchased. One of these items would be considered gasoline.

  • Using cash is one of the best budgeting tips and tricks used to lower your expenses. While my credit card company does pay me 5% to purchase gas, I still avoid using my credit card. I chose to not use it mainly for security reasons. There are other things I use cash for such as eating dinners out, paying for lunches, and some miscellaneous stores that I go to. Even when I budget by paycheck, I still account for some cash transactions with each check.
  • Not only do I find myself saving roughly 30% by using cash versus using a credit card, I am also taking additional steps to prevent credit card theft. It’s the most important simple budgeting tip when it comes to identity security. So for these expenses such as gasoline and occasional meals out, they still need to be included. You still should include them with the new monthly budget even though they are cash transactions. If you are able to reduce cash transactions, you will have money available to put towards a house down payment if your looking to buy your own place.

Add a Savings Line To Your Budget

Another one of the important budgeting tips and tricks is to save money. A common mistake that people often make is that they forget to save.  While yes, frugal living tips can get you a long way, you still have to save. You should include a separate line item within your monthly budget that allocates some of your money into savings. You can call this line item your emergency savings fund because that is exactly what it is. By making this part of your monthly expenses and saving money, you are setting money aside. This money can be used for unexpected expenses that will show up. Unexpected expenses always do show up in a household, but by planning for it this way and selling the money aside you will have it when the need arises. Your unexpected expense will be less disruptive to your monthly budget.

Make Credit Card Payments Fixed Expenses

Paying down credit card debt and balances is one of the necessary steps to building wealth. It is one of the first areas you should focus on once you have your budget template set up. Making credit card payments is a necessity when it comes to how to fix your credit yourself. By paying down your debt and eliminating that monthly expense, you are slowly building up purchasing power with your money. Think of the old saying it takes money to make money. In order to truly increase household wealth, you need to have capital available to put towards wealth building actions. That is why it is so important to make credit card payments part of your monthly budget as a fixed expense. Once that fixed monthly expense has been eliminated, you can re-purpose that money for other strategies.

Budget Conservatively For Income

Overestimating income can be a huge challenge down the road to deal with. This is one of the most important budgeting tips and tricks to use. When the income you receive falls short, you will have to make adjustments in your household budget to cover the shortfall. That is why you should use the lowest guaranteed monthly income received. If you have things like alimony that you receive, there is no guarantee that you will receive that money each month. Instead use things like a guaranteed paycheck for income from your employer. Use that income amount to plan your budget expenses around. I talk about using the lowest income amount as the strategy for how to build a budget for the self employed family.

Define Your Budget

Deciding to create a budget is a great first step in taking control of your financial life.  Equally important is the reason why you are creating a budget. People often find themselves using a budget for several reasons in their daily finances. Some of those reasons are that they are unable to build a savings or they are living paycheck to paycheck. Whether it is short-term goals, long-term goals, or other reasons, becoming aware of what they are plays an important role in defining the function of your budget. Below are reasons why to create a budget:

  • Finding a way to save more money
  • Reducing overspending on problem areas
  • Ending fights about money for couples
  • Making sure your spending reflects your goals and values
  • Breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle
  • Avoiding spending money you don’t have
  • Getting out of debt
  • Staying on track toward long-term financial goals By defining your reason for a budget you will be more inclined to stick with it. By creating a budget and using a personal finance flowchart, you will stay motivated by working towards financial goals.

Synchronization among Devices

A modern individual often uses several devices (at work and home) and various scenarios while working with data. For instance, users can launch a personal finance app on a smartphone, view reports on a home PC, and enter additional data on a work tablet. Your product will become highly relevant if you plan to release its versions for different platforms.

Informative Reports

If necessary, users should have the possibility to generate a report on various income and expense items for different periods, as well as build diagrams helping to manage money the best way possible. A good-looking dashboard draws attention and makes information understandable and manageable. The possibility to create high-quality data visualizations and build informative reports is very important for a budgeting app. [by 540studio]

Alerts and Notifications

That is one of the most important functions in any financial app to use for notifications about:

  • upcoming payments;
  • low account balance;
  • funds receipt;
  • new app version capabilities, etc. You can read more on this topic in our article: In-App Messages vs. Push Notifications: What’s the Difference and How to Use them.

Tracking Bills and Expenses

You can add records about your income and expenses manually or automatically. A combination of both methods is the optimal solution. A lot of financial info can be obtained due to integrations with banks and payment systems. However, you may occasionally settle some things using cash. It is worth noting that cost classification is a very useful feature as well. It allows users to link expenses to one of the created categories (food, entertainment, utilities, etc.) and better understand what money is spent on.