Budgeting is boring and hard–right?
Well, it can be, but you can hack your new budget for extra excitement to make it a little more interesting. Maybe this time you actually stick to it!
Give yourself some ‘fun’ money
When someone sits down to budget seriously for the first time, whether they’re trying to get out of debt or save for a holiday, that first sacrifice is always ‘fun’ money. It might seem optional when compared to Food and Rent, but if you’re going to stick to your budget, fun money is the number one category you shouldn’t short yourself on.
It might not make sense logically, but consider this: Not having fun in life can put some strain on your mind, and you’ll be more likely to break your budget.
Don’t go overboard by giving yourself $1,000 a week, but if you’re used to spending a hundred bucks a month going out to dinners and bars, then setting your fun money budget to zero is something you’ll never stick to.
Consider cutting your current spend in half, or lower it by $10 a week of it for a couple of months. That way you’ll still be enjoying yourself without feeling completely deprived. After all, $10 a week is just a couple of beers. You can still go out with your friends. You’ll just have to take advantage of happy hours and house specials to keep the budget on track.
Get your friends on your side
Speaking of friends, no one likes doing things alone. Get yourself a budget buddy to keep you accountable. If you’re saving to go on vacation, the best budget buddy is the person coming along with you. That way, they’ll be right with you on the saving journey.
Of course, support is all well and good, but what can step your budget hack up to the next level is competition. Instead of a buddy having your back to make sure you stick to your budget, consider challenging your buddy to see who can do better.
What ‘better’ means is up to you and your friend. Maybe you want to see who can spend the least on booze in a month. Maybe you’re looking to see who can shovel the most money into the vacation fund, or pay down the most debt.
Choose a challenge that works for you, and check in with your buddy regularly.
Lastly, there’s no point in giving yourself ‘fun’ money, or getting your friends on your side if you don’t actually track how your spending is going. Sitting down each night to log your spending can be arduous–which is why you should take advantage of the super high tech device in your pocket.
Multiple phone apps exist that will track your spending for you. Apps like Mint and You Need a Budget can be linked up with your accounts and will track and categorize your spending. Mint is even free.
With just a few button presses, all your expenses will be right there in your pocket, broken down into categories. You can see at a glance whether you’re winning at your budget, or whether you should skip that third pumpkin spice latte for the day.
With all the information at your fingertips, you’re ready to hack your budget for ultimate success.