January, also known as the longest month of the year, because we’re trying to survive after the festive season. Budgeting is really important if you need to pay off debts after this period or if you want to do something more pleasurable. In today’s post, I’m going to be talking about some tools you can use to budget and how you can start to do it too in a few simple steps.
I absolutely love January because I’m a goal-oriented person so while it might sound totally cringy, I love goal setting and January is the perfect partner for that. The one downside of January however, is how long it feels especially when it comes to your finances. Getting paid early in December might feel like a dream at first but reality soon hits when you look at the calendar for the next month and realise how many weeks it is until you are next paid. If you’re like me, it’s the last day of the month. We’ve all heard about Blue Monday which is said to be the worst day of the month due to the financial strain of the previous month.
(Photo Credit: Pexels)
There are three types of people in this world; those who like to record manually, those who like to work digitally and those who don’t know where to start. If you’re reading this blog post, I would say more than likely, you are the third person. Trying to find the right system for you can be overwhelming and it all comes down to what type of person you are and your time management skills.
You’re a manual person… if you love having everything written down in a notepad or your own worksheet and you have the time to make sure that everything is accounted for. The manual route is a great option if you are someone who isn’t great on technology and would rather have personal information like your expenses filed in a cabinet in your office or your house.
You’re a digital person… if you want everything accounted for but you know that you don’t have the time to write every single expense out. The digital route is also a really good option if you plan to keep your expenses on file in one designated place so they are easily accessible.
How I budget for this time of the year.
I use an Android app called “Money Manager” (which I’m sure is available on the Apple store too) and while it’s a digital system, you could say it’s a manual version. You have to input the data yourself and I personally love how you can customise each expense with each symbol as well as making your own expenses. I tend to sit with the app while going through my mobile banking app and adding in each payment alongside the date and a description of what it was. I tend to do this on a Sunday evening as I wind down for the week ahead.
(Photo Credit: Money Manager on Google Play Store)
These recommendations are friends recommendations and what works for them. Monzo seems to be quite popular at the moment, not only because it’s an online bank with some of the best interest rates but it can also help you with your spending. It has a function on the app to tell you what categories you are spending the most, which is a lot like the app I use, except Monzo does it automatically for you. If you don’t want to change your bank, I know that most of the commercial banks have something very similar on their apps (I know mine does!)
Both Google and Microsoft have several templates that you can customise to suit your style if you prefer having all your information on a worksheet. You can also make these to suit your financial needs, whether you want one huge sheet for the year or if you prefer to break them up over weeks and months.
Who doesn’t love a traditional money box? I personally find this is an old school option because I don’t tend to carry money with me all that often but I think it’s a really good option for the loose change you may have sitting in the bottom of your purse or even the coins you have around the house. I bought my boyfriend a money box that can detect which coin is going into the box, and it added it up for you too. (He will happily admit that he loved seeing the figure go up!)
If you don’t think the coin option would suit you, there are a number of apps including Tandem and Monzo that will round up your purchases to the nearest pound and it adds it into your savings. There’s even an app called Moneybox and it adds the spare change into an investment fund. All you have to do is add an app to your phone and connect it to your bank account, and you’re good to go!
Make sure you have a why.
We’re always being told that we have to do something that everyone else is doing, which brings me to my most important point; if you don’t want to budget, don’t do it. There is nothing worse that forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do just because you think you should do it. My guess would be that if you didn’t want to sort out your finances, you wouldn’t be reading this post but I think it’s really important to make sure you have a “why”. Why do you want to save money or figure out your finances? Are you saving up for a holiday or a home renovation, or maybe you want to find a way where you’re not so tight every month. Whatever your reason, you have to make sure it’s a good reason for you or you might not stick to it as much as you think.
Thank you so much as always for reading today’s post! I know it can be hard to start budgeting but you need to find the right method for you, and I hope that my post is able to help with that, even as a starting point. I also have another post I wrote two years ago which gives a more in-depth look at how much to save (which I’ll link here). I hope you have a lovely start to the New Year!