It’s in the Cards—by Jen
I put all that I can on my credit card and pay it off each month so I have a record of all my purchases. Next, I use my credit-card statement to update my cash-flow spreadsheet monthly, so I can see what I’m spending. (Do I really value spending $300 on eating out?)
Then I adjust my habits. This spreadsheet has saved my life so often—I always know where my money is going. And tax time is a breeze.
We had TONS of nonperishable food from Costco and the grocery store. The goal was to not buy anything except milk, bread and fresh produce—until we got through that supply. We cut our grocery bill in half—and now I can see the back of my freezer.
Dare to Save—by Jessica D.
I collect all my funds into my savings account at TD Bank. Then I move funds to checking via online transfers as needed. I give myself $100 at a time to work with. I play a little game—I see how long I can make the $100 last. Sometimes it’s a day (I lose), and sometimes it’s most of the week (I win!).
Use the Slider System—by HL
After transferring cash into savings and subtracting money for fixed bills each month, I divvy up the rest among variable costs: groceries, gas, clothing, eating out, entertainment, travel, etc.
If I know I have something big coming up in one category, I’ll reduce the others to stay within the limit.
Leftover money is either swept into savings or rolled over to the next month’s budget. I like my slider system because I don’t feel deprived—if I spend more than usual in gas and tolls, I’ll just cut down my clothing budget for the month.
Try a Classic—by AB
As a graduate student with a fixed income, I keep myself on the well-known 50/30/20 plan. It takes a while to get used to it, but now I hardly have to think about my budget. When I get my check:
- 20% automatically goes into a high-yield savings account
- 30% is guilt-free spending for clothing, entertainment, etc., and bills for things that I enjoy but aren’t essential, like cable and Internet
- 50% goes to my essentials, like rent, maintenance, groceries, utilities, and gas
Go Steady—by Cara
I’ve gotten on the level-payment plans offered by my natural gas and electricity providers. This way I pay the same amount each month and don’t get hit with high heating costs in winter or huge AC bills in summer.
Shout out. What’s your main hurdle when it comes to budgeting?