Budgeting Tips and Tricks

The New Year is right around the corner, our Treasurer Jim Pace would like to share some insight on getting your finances off to a healthy start to begin the new year. BHCU has four tips (and tons of tricks) for sticking to your budget.

First Thing’s First—Set a Budget

Before you can stick to a budget, you have to create one, and it should list every single item you spend money on every month—no leaving anything off! You can do this either by writing it down in a notebook or creating a spreadsheet on your laptop. Your budget should include:

  • Credit card payments

  • Loans

  • Mortgage/rent

  • Utility bills

  • Internet bill

  • Cable bill

  • Car bills (monthly loan payment, car insurance, gas)

  • Food

  • Gym fees

  • Extras (i.e. coffee, dining out, bus/train tickets, Uber/Lyft costs, fitness classes, grooming appointments)

If you find yourself paying for something every month, it should go into your budget.

Once this is set, look at your pay stub and figure out how much you’re making on payday—this way, your income won’t include the money you get taken out for taxes, health insurance or dental insurance.

Cut Costs Where You Can

If you’re finding that your monthly bills are exceeding your actual income, then it’s time to look at your budget and figure out where you can save money. Here are some money-saving tips that will help you save money and make sticking to your budget easier:

  • Make a food shopping list: This should be done before you go to the store so you can plan out which essentials you need—no straying from the list once you’re in the store, and definitely, don’t go when you’re hungry!

  • Skip the barista-made coffees: Whether you buy a coffee every day or now and then throughout the month, they add up. Take this out of your budget completely and make your coffee at home instead.

  • Pack lunch, save money: It’s hard to resist the urge of buying lunch when all of your coworkers are doing it, but everyone’s financial situation is different. If buying lunch multiple times is draining your checking account, then it’s time to get in touch with your inner chef and pack your lunch every day instead.

  • Become a savvier diner: Going out to eat is always fun, but the cost can add up quickly. Try to keep dining out to a minimum, and when you do go out, do your best to take advantage of appetizers and happy hour deals.

Make Life Easier By Going Automatic

No matter how many monthly bills you may need to pay, remembering to pay them can be a pain. To take the stress out of this step, set some time aside one day, log in to each of one of your accounts and set your account settings to Autopay. Once this is done, you may want to consider adding each due date to your budget; this will make tracking your budget throughout the month easier and will help you to quickly figure out how to reallocate funds during a month when things may be tighter.

Opt for a More Budget-Friendly Credit Card

Although paying down your credit card debt is always a great goal, having no credit card just isn’t realistic in the 21st century—not only do they help build your credit score, but they’re also important to have on hand for any emergency that may come your way. When looking for a credit card, choose one that has NO balance transfer fees, gives you cash back perks and has a low rate.