Okay, I admit it I am not a big budgeting person. I love how budget templates look like but I can not for the life of me, be consistent with budgets. Most people who are in the personal finance community like to create budgets to improve their finances and that’s great but in my opinion, you can’t budget your way to financial freedom and budgeting is not the answer to your money problems.
Why Budgeting Doesn’t Work For Me?
The idea of budgeting is great and all, but it doesn’t work for some people like me. I think it’s time consuming. I like to keep my finances simple. The main reason why most people can’t reach their financial goals is because of their relationship with money. They spend more than what they make. So even if they budget, this is simply not going to work.
What can you do instead if budgeting doesn’t work?
Create a Solid Financial Plan
It’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior. You have a new goal and a new plan, but you haven’t changed who you are. Atomic Habits, James Clear
Having a short-term and long-term financial goals is a must. Ask yourself why you want to save money, why you want to improve your finances. If you have the right reasons and motivation, sticking to your financial goal should be easy.
Short-term plans can be saving for an emergency fund or a vacation, or paying down debt. For example, one of my short-term financial goals is to pay off my student loans last year and to go to Hawaii for Eliana’s (my baby girl) 1st birthday last May. On the other hand, long-term plans can be saving for retirement and investing for a longer period of time to let your money grow.
Once you’ve set your goals, the next step is to track your finances. You can do this by downloading apps like MINT or YNAB. Analyze your expenses and pay attention to your biggest expenses.
Then you can start taking small actionable steps to get to your financial goals.
Cut down costs on these expenses
The reason why you’re broke is not because you buy $5 lattes before work. Instead of cutting costs from all parts of your life, focus on the three biggest household expenses: housing, transportation, and food/groceries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average expenditure for these three categories per household in 2018 was 61.6% of the total household spending.
Figure out ways to get these expenses to be as low as possible without sacrificing your quality of life.
Housing is the biggest household expense. I agree! Our mortgage is the biggest expense we have monthly. Most people tend to overspend on this category alone which doesn’t leave much room for all the other expenses.
Are you able to lower your housing cost by moving to something more affordable? I used to live in Northern California for 5 years but realized how expensive the houses are over there. If you are not aware, the average family house cost is over $500,000. My husband and I decided to move back to our hometown which is more suburb and the housing market is not as expensive.
Ways to decrease your housing cost:
- Move to a smaller house or apartment
- Rent out rooms or units you’re not using
- Sell your home and start renting again
- Move to a lower cost of living area
Contrary to what most people think, owning a house is not *an investment*. The taxes, fees and cost to maintain a house are really worth considering when making a home purchase. I purchased a house because “owning a home” is more of a sentimental value.
But if you are interested in owning a house READ: WAYS TO SAVE FOR YOUR FIRST HOUSE
Transportation is another major expenditure that most people spend on.
Ways to decrease transportation cost:
- Use public transportation if available and safe to utilize
- Walk or bike to work if you can
- Find a job that’s closer to your house
- Carpool with friends or co-workers
- Don’t lease a car
- Opt for a cheaper car that’s reliable
Currently, we own a gas-efficient vehicle. My first car was an Infiniti G37 and I ended up selling to to get a cheaper subaru impreza which I also ended up selling too.
3. FOOD AND GROCERIES
My husband and I love eating out. We used to spend hundreds of dollars weekly for take-out food. I realized how crazy this adds up. Now, we do our groceries every week and try to cook at home. This has definitely cut our food costs by 10-15%
Ways to decrease food costs:
- Do a no spend- week for eating out
- Cook at home
- Look for grocery stores that are cheap: I love Aldi, Winco and Vallarta ~ We can easily have a 2 weeks worth of groceries for less than $150
- Buy your $5 lattes once a week instead of every day and just make your coffee at home
Budgeting is a great tool to use to track your expenses and know where you’re allocating your money, but some times for some people, it just doesn’t work. It can be complicated and time consuming. Creating a solid financial plan, working towards it and cutting down on expenses can help you improve your finances.