So you’ve thought about setting up a brand new budget to manage your spending.
But there is a problem. You Start a new budget With the best of intentions, just forgetting to hold on, or you’ll just get mad about it. Maybe you try again next month, right? The cycle goes on and on and you are disappointed and broke.
This is common to many people, but why? Budgets fail because they are not sustainable. Why are they not sustainable? Because they focus entirely on needs and ignore wishes. This is where spending consciously comes into play to save the day!
Traditional budgeting is about making cuts, and usually the first thing to do is fun stuff. You do not do that need a Netflix subscription to have that cut back. You don’t have to go to Taco Tuesday in Molina’s Cantina that’s how it works too. But what does that leave you with? A budget that nobody wants to stick to. And … another failed attempt. We know we were there.
The truth is, Budgets are a waste of time. Didn’t you think we’d say that?
“[Budgets] We feel bad about ourselves, they don’t provide forward-looking information – they’re just pointless, ”as explained in our book. I will teach you to be rich.
Leave the budget behind and start spending consciously instead
The problem with budgets is that they make you look back on your expenses to make changes. What really happens is that you look back and feel terrible. And you do that the next month and then the next month after that. What you should be doing instead is look Forward not backwards.
This is a strategy we call “conscious spending”. Notice how it is aware Expenditure, Not To save. The thought behind this is all about positive spending habits and doesn’t prohibit you from spending altogether. So put down that budgeting table or app that you launch every few months and forget about it.
Here are the steps behind the spend consciously strategy.
Step one: categorize your current expenses
Let’s start with an overview of your money and expenses. You should be able to categorize your expenses into four different types:
- Fixed costs (rent and bills)
- Major investments (401k, Roth IRA, emergency fund)
- Savings goals (down payment, vacation fund)
- Guilt-free expenses (eating out, movies, happy hour drinks)
Let’s break these down even further.
Fixed costs – what you need to live
Based on fixed costs, list everything you need to spend during the month, including rent / mortgage payments, car payments, loan repayments, insurance, and utility bills. Write everything down and write the cost next to each one.
When you’re done, add an additional 15%. But why do you ask? It’s meant to cover the things that you didn’t consider. That way, your month won’t get derailed if something comes out of the blue.
Then subtract that total cost from your monthly takeaway payment. Ideally, this number should be around 50-60% of your net income. What you have left is for savings and fun things.
Major investments – what future – you have to live
Your priority here is to cover your 401k and Roth IRA. Save at least 5-10% of your after-tax income for these accounts. If you’re unsure of how much to put away for retirement, then Retirement calculator is your new best friend.
Savings goals – what you want for the future
The next thing to look at is the financial goals for the future. You can break this section into short term, medium term, and long term savings.
Short-term savings are things like gift purchases or a brand new pair of AirPods that you dearly wanted to justify. Medium term savings include, for example, a down payment on a car and long term savings on big ticket items like a down payment on a house or college fund.
If we follow the rule 50/30/20 (50% basic needs / 30% wishes / 20% savings), savings goals and retirement provision fall into the 20% class. This means that 20% of your takeaway salary should end up in savings.
Guilt-free conscious spending – what you want, period
The guilt free part of spending is the hard part. It’s all of these little costs that add up before you know it. The Uber drives, popcorn in the cinema, an additional cocktail at happy hour. Such things are a little more difficult to prepare for if you don’t have a strictly planned social life. Ideally, you’d want to reserve 20-30% of your take-away salary for these types of expenses and variable expenses.
“But I thought we shouldn’t spend on fun things while budgeting?”
This is exactly where budgets become unsustainable.
Remember, traditional budgeting is a waste of time. Most of us will spend this money whether or not we told ourselves to. You might as well be choosing how much to spend on fun things instead of forbidding yourself to spend it all.
By allocating your money this way, you are making sure that all major expenses are dealt with first without leaving out the fun things.
Step two: set up your automated system
Now you have a good idea of where you want your money to go. It’s time to automate your budget.
First, decide what percentage of your takeaway income you want to divide into each category. As mentioned earlier, a good rule of thumb is 50% for needs (e.g. rent, groceries), 20% for savings (e.g. 401,000, savings goals), and 30% for needs (the things you feel guilty about when you spend money). . Remember, budgeting is an organic process. It’s not the end of the world if you have to tweak the percentages a little. Don’t feel guilty, it’s all part of the process. The most important thing is that it works for you.
The next step is to split your money into each category when your paycheck arrives. An easy way to do this is to set up regular transfers from your checking account to your savings accounts. That way, you don’t even have to think about it.
For example, you could automatically transfer money for your fixed costs to be transferred to a joint account with your spouse. You can also transfer your debt-free money to a prepaid card that you just use for fun. By making these transfers automatically, you’ll be thankful for not having to make these difficult decisions every month.
Step three: keep track
This part will probably look familiar to you if you’ve ever downloaded a budgeting app before. But instead of starting with a vague idea of making cuts and saving money, the spend consciously strategy will offer a more focused approach.
Download the budgeting app or worksheet again. Some of the apps we recommend include Tiller money, you need a budget, or mint. These all work in slightly different ways. For example, if you’re the type who prefers spreadsheets (I guilty!), Tiller Money is a great choice. Be sure to check out some reviews before choosing one that will work for you.
Using an app or a trusted spreadsheet to keep track of your expenses is an easy way to ensure that you are adhering to the parameters set beforehand.
Remember: Be conscious not to save
Budgeting shouldn’t be about depriving yourself. It should be about spending where it really matters. Spending what you love and fewer things that don’t matter.
Therefore the Conscious spending strategy it is primarily about spending. Most budgeting tips focus on what you are doing tilt do what you tilt Spend your money on it or how you ruin everything by buying coffee you love (PS you are not. Coffee is fine, actually more than fine.)
We’ll be the first to admit that budgeting isn’t exactly fun. But if your budgeting method leaves you with guilt, fear, and a sinking feeling every time you buy something, it is a clear sign that it is not working for you.
There is definitely a place for frugality and wise spending. We would not recommend donning designer clothes while your retirement accounts are empty. But there has to be a middle ground to make your budget absolutely miserable. Frugality alone is not enough to get you where you want to be. Neither is reckless spending.
What will work is being aware of your expenses and deciding what is actually important. That’s why the 50/30/20 split is so easy. It cares about the important things first, but doesn’t neglect the importance of spending on itself.
In summary, spending consciously is not about checking your checking account after You spent the money and felt bad. It’s about knowing how much you’re going to spend In front You go on a shopping spree. Look ahead, not backwards.
Have fun (consciously) spending!
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