I HATE budgeting apps. Instead, I follow these 5 rules.

I hate budgeting apps. My spending varies too much from month to month, and I spend based on what I have in the bank.

But even without a strict budget, I have some fairly strict rules. For those of you who don’t know, I’m 22, paying rent on a great (read: expensive) apartment, paying off student loans, and struggling with high costs of city living. Even if it’s only in the back of your head, you need to have control of your finances.

Rule 1: Check your checking/savings and credit card accounts when you check your email/social media.

I like to start my day knowing exactly where I am financially. How much money is mine? How much have I spent of my last paycheck? How much spending have I done on my credit card this month, and do I need to slow down?

If I notice I have a little extra money, I might treat myself to lunch or some online shopping.. Either way, knowledge is power. You want to know what is in your bank account at all times.

Rule 2: Never, ever, ever spend more than what you can pay back next month on your credit card.

Because if you make this mistake, you pay for it. In interest, and in a decreased credit score. I use my credit card knowing that I’ll be able to pay it off at the end of the month.  And hey, that worked in my favor – after just a few months of use, they upped my credit limit.

If you use your credit card the right way, it can be totally worth it. I get lots of great rewards that help to fuel my online shopping addiction, but it lets me get some of the things I’ve been eyeing for FREE.

Rule 3: Price shop. Always, always price shop.

I love using shopping apps. If you don’t have a memory like mine (I remember how much EVERYTHING costs), it’s worth it to get an Amazon.com app – or something similar. Check out what prices are online versus what they are around you. Are you spending too much on your wine? Scan the label on Vivino and see how much the bottle is really worth.

Use coupons. Google search for coupons before you check out online. Keep your CVS/similar frequented store coupons that come with your receipt, and use them.

Compare prices across websites before you buy, even on something small. Is it cheaper to buy the 3 pack of shampoo on Amazon? Probably! If I have the money for it, why not stock up when the price is cheap? (See – this is why I don’t like having a budget app. The budget app will yell at me for having spent more on shampoo this month than I did last month. Well, of course I did, you dumb app.)

Rule 4: Keep a list of upcoming mandatory expenses.

I use Evernote for this – because I can update it from my laptop or from my phone. I keep track of the next 6 months. Where is my money going?

An example:

“September Expenses
Note: First month rent is already paid
– $XXX Loans
~$XX Utilities
– $XXX Yoga yearly membership
_______
~ XXX

October Expenses
Note: n/a
– $XXXX Rent
– $XXX Loans
~$XX Utilities
_______
~ XXX

If you have seen your future expenses written out, you’ll be able to prepare months in advance for them. I pay once a year for my yoga membership (it is cheaper that way, after all), so it helps to have a visual reminder that this expense happens each year in September.
Rule 5: Save what you’ve got when you’ve got it.

At the end of the month, every month, I calculate what needs to stay in my checking account for rent, bills, loans, and my credit card payment.Then, I look at what’s left. If there is more than $250, I dump the excess in savings (or towards my loans).$250 is not an arbitrary number. It’s what I have learned I can live comfortably on between paychecks. It is enough to buy groceries, go out at least once, and have something left in case there was an emergency.

This method helped me save a few thousand dollars in a year’s time. It’s amazing how much money we waste when we see that we have it in our bank accounts.

One response to “I HATE budgeting apps. Instead, I follow these 5 rules.”

  1. I agree that budget apps are not for everyone. Great post!

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