Growing up, I never kept track of where I was spending my money. I just swipe my debit card and off I went. As you can imagine, this was not a good practice.

 

 

I didn't change this bad habit until one day someone blatantly told me the truth. At first I felt offended (only because this person didn't believe I could change this habit at all) but looking back, it was something I needed to hear.

It lead me to a whole bunch of financial books which not only helped me learned how to save but helped me search for ways to increase my income by multiple streams.

These are some of the things I've picked up about budgeting that I would love to share with you.

Pay yourself first

In all the financial books I've read these past couple years, they all have one common message. That is to pay yourself first. This means before you pay any bills, you set aside a certain amount and put it into investments or savings.

I also consider my travel account as paying myself first. Currently, most of my monthly income are going to these accounts as I would sacrifice a little fun in my hometown for a bigger and better excitement somewhere around the world. Sacrificing to travel!

After investments, savings, and travel account has been taken care of, I make sure I set aside a small percentage into my rainy day account and/or pay down any debt I have left. Interest on credit cards are ridiculously high therefore getting rid of them as quickly as possible is the best idea.

Figure out your total monthly expenses

 

 

This list includes mortgage, car loan, groceries, credit card, etc. Know the total amount of your monthly expenses. Look for ways to cut this column down.

Examples:

  • A subscription to a magazine that you hardly ever read anymore? You need to let it go.
  • As I said before, credit card interest? Pay it off as soon as possible so they don't charge you ridiculous amount each month!

Split your income accordingly

After paying myself first and then paying my bills for the month, I like to split up what I have left into restaurants, drinks, movies, shopping, etc.

This allows me to spend without feeling guilty. I don't have a big buffer for my 'play' account because I decided to deposit it into travel instead. Sacrificing to travel! I'm not one for expensive clothes. It's just clothes to me.

Take cash out for the month

What I find useful was taking out cash for my 'play'.

It makes it easier to discipline myself if a friend ask me to go somewhere expensive. If I look at my cash reserve and come to an assumption that I won't have enough to last me for the month, I say no without feeling any guilt.

 

 

Use an excel template to track your money

And update it regularly. I like to update mine every Monday, just to have a peace of mind that I'm on track for the month.

I started with a simple excel sheet that I found online. I've been using the same sheet for years but during this time, I revised it to my needs.

When I first started, my bank account and excel sheet never matched up. I was missing a few dollars here and there. I cracked down on the problem and fixed it while updating the template so it doesn't happen again. As a result, both my bank balance and excel sheet matches every month now.

The point is to pick any template that you think would work for you and start with that one. Update the template as you make the mistakes and soon you'll be tracking it a lot better.

How do you stick to your budget?

It's sure a learning process and there are still some months I go over my budget. Comment below on what kind of things you do to stick with your budget?

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Published by Duy Dang