So it’s Black Friday. Yes, I’ll be heading out with my Mom just to pick up a few sale items/gifts for others, but I’m not looking to drop tons of money on the latest gadgets and toys. In fact, starting today (and pretty much through the rest of the year), it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and lose sight of the goals we’ve set to help us achieve financial peace of mind, right?
This holiday (especially with Baby P on the horizon), T and I are really thinking about finances—even more than usual. We have always been a budgeting couple and track our spending (and saving). It’s not about going on a fancy vacation every year or having the newest car on the block…it’s about setting ourselves up for financial success for the future.
I heard this quote somewhere (can’t remember who said it, sorry!) and it has always stuck with me because there is so much truth to it. Definitely my mantra!
While we all may have gifts, greetings and get-togethers on the brain, it’s important not to lose sight of your financial goals. So I put together a list of just a few tips on how to stick to your budget to set yourself up for success:
Please note: I am not a financial expert, these are just some tips I found to be helpful.
How to Achieve Financial Peace of Mind and Stick to Your Budget:
- Budget! (Pretty obvious, right?)
Make a monthly budget and stick to it. Every year, T and I reassess our budget (it’s an AMAZING spreadsheet that T created, by the way) from the previous year and make sure we have the appropriate amounts allocated for categories like cars & transportation costs, clothing, entertainment, gifts, etc. Then we check in on our budget at the end of every month to see how we did so we can adjust accordingly. It’s so important to get real with yourself and account for where you dollars (and cents) are going.
- Live within your means. (Meaning live on LESS than you make.) Don’t max out your credit card or aim to spend just to hit your budget. Having money left over at the end of the month is the whole idea…just like my millionaire mantra.
- Save for emergencies and for the future. You’ve heard of an emergency fund (a fund with 3-6 months of expenses set aside in case you lose your job, have a health issue, something breaks in your home/car, etc.) Emergencies happen and it’s important to save for them. Same is true for the future. Investing your money in a retirement account like a 401k, Roth 401 or even money markets will pay off big time in the end- especially if you do it early. We are even getting a 529 college savings plan ready for Baby P. Start early and contribute regularly is the key here!
- Go shopping! (No, not that kind of shopping.) Check out nearby financial institutions and make sure you are keeping your money in the best place, getting the best interest rates, etc. In fact, Capital One 360’s Black Friday Sale starts today and has deals like new account and referral bonuses and closing credits on products like banking, brokerage and mortgages. All of their Black Friday Sale deals are designed to encourage consumers to keep their finances top of mind.
- Avoid unnecessary fees. Late fees, ATM fees, interest fees and withdrawal fees, etc. are great ways to throw away your money. Know the rules and plan ahead so you don’t give away your hard earned money! If you are living within your means, you should try to pay off the balance of your credit card each month. And find a system that works for you to make sure your bills aren’t late. (And while you’re at it- take advantage of online bill-pay and save all that postage…it really adds up!)
- Buy smart. Shop around and know what you are paying for. It pays off to do your homework. Cut coupons, take advantage of weekly specials at the grocery store, make your coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks, read Consumer Reports before making a large purchase. There’s no shame in being smart with your money!
Hopefully these tips will help you get your budget in order for 2015 and help you achieve a financial peace of mind. Good luck avoiding the “financial hangover” when shopping is over!
How do you stick to your budget and set yourself up for success?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.