Saving money is often a challenge, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and every dollar counts. Ideally, however, you’re saving at least 10 percent of your income to cover any unexpected bills, expenses, and even opportunities.
A recent study showed that 80 percent of Americans create a budget to plan their finances. That’s an increase over prior years, which is good news.
Setting a budget is one thing. Sticking to it is something else.
Here are 3 budgeting systems that can help you create a financial plan, stay on course, and ultimately save 10 percent of your income.
1. Download A Budgeting App
There’s an app for just about everything, and that includes your budgeting goals. Find the platform that works best for you. Some apps will focus on spending and others will give you a side-by-side snapshot of your spending versus saving.
Look for a free app so you’re not working against your goal of saving 10 percent of your income. Try Mint or Personal Capital or Goodbudget.
Using a digital budgeting system speaks to ease and convenience. You can immediately type in what you spend, follow where your money goes, and do everything from your cell phone. Some apps will sync with your banking app, credit card apps, and other online bill paying features.
2. Keep Your Budgeting System Old School
For some people, there’s an emotional connection to paper and pencil writing that cannot be replicated by typing and swiping. If this sounds like you, keep your budget on paper. Maybe it’s a spreadsheet or a legal pad. Maybe it’s the envelope system, where you physically save your cash in an envelope and then deposit it into your savings account.
When you’re writing out your own budget, you can create a system that works specifically for you. Make a column for each monthly bill. Use different color pens and pencils to highlight where you’re spending more than you’d like and where you might find new opportunities to save.
Not every budgeting system needs to be high-tech. If you like note taking and writing and making lists by hand, get your finances down on paper and see where you can find that 10 percent. It’s there.
3. Always Pay Yourself First
On average, Americans save between 3.0 and 3.6 percent of their disposable income. That’s not enough. Get to that 10 percent marker by paying yourself first.
This means shifting the full 10 percent of what you earn immediately into some sort of savings account. Do this before you begin paying bills or spending money. Direct deposit can help. You can ask your company to put 10 percent of your paycheck into a separate account than the one that’s used for your general banking purposes. This budgeting system means you don’t have to fight your instincts to put that money towards other things. It’s already been taken out of the pool of accessible funds.
Challenge yourself with one of these budgeting systems and see how quickly you can begin saving 10 percent of your income. You might be surprised that once you’re organized about it, the savings are not so hard to achieve.
Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author.
He’s been featured on The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What’s Your Story, and more.
He loves to share his personal finance tips and money management wisdom with others on his website, ShawnManaher.com, to help them find financial freedom