Kinsey Love, marketing director, Lewiston State Bank
With the New Year in full swing, it’s time to make the customary “budgeting goal.” You make this goal every year, and every year it’s busted by February. To help you stay on track, we have compiled a list of our favorite budgeting tips and tricks.
1. Be realistic. If you think you can buy groceries for $60 a week, but historically have only accomplished this once, don’t set yourself up for failure by making that as your weekly grocery budget. By choosing unrealistic goals, you will be more discouraged when you fail to meet your mark and less likely to continue.
2. Expect the unexpected. Create an emergency fund for those unfortunate pop-up expenses. According to a recent survey conducted by the federal reserve, 46 percent of respondents said they would have to borrow money or sell something to cover an unexpected emergency expense of $400. Don’t be caught unprepared; consider putting 5 percent of your income away for emergencies in a separate, accessible account.
3. Have a miscellaneous category. Adding a miscellaneous category will save you headaches when you don’t quite know how to categorize popsicle sticks for your Kindergartener’s craft or a new case for the iPad you won. This can also become a convenient flex account for when you go a little over what you planned in another category.
4. Use tools. In this wonderful world of technology, we are lucky to have tools that will help make budgeting easier. You might try an app such as MoneyDesktop® by MX, Mint® or Good Budget®. Many of these tools are free and connect directly to your institution to track expenses and automatically categorize them into your predetermined accounts.
5. Review and recalculate. At the end of each month, set aside a specific date and time to review your budget. If you notice that you are constantly going over in a certain category, adjust your other accounts to allow for the additional spending.
6. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect, and, more importantly, no budget is either. When you go over budget, don’t give up. It takes a while to create a realistic plan for your money. Be patient and remember you are doing better than you think you are.