If you’ve been budgeting 30 days or 30 months, you might still have a little voice in the back of your head asking questions. Questions like, “How can I do this better?”
Great question, little voice in my head. With these six tips, you’ll learn how to improve your budget—both by getting more money in there and by managing all that money better. Let’s do this thing.
1. Get an accountability partner.
Living that budgeting life isn’t always easy. Temptations to give it all up and blow your whole paycheck on life’s YOLO and FOMO moments (like tickets to Beyoncé’s world tour—I see you, BeyHive) are bombarding you every time you open social media.
But I’ve got good news. If you want to improve how well you stick to the budgets you’re making, there’s a super simple habit you can start: checking in with your accountability partner!
But wait, you might think. I don’t have an accountability partner! Well then first things first: Get you one. Find someone who’ll cheer you on—and call you out. (P.S. If you’re married, you have a built-in budgeting accountability partner.)
Once you’ve got the position filled, set up the routine of checking in. (Did someone say, “Monthly budget meetings?” I did. Because this is the perfect reason to start this important money habit!)
2. Review your spending habits (especially on the extras).
I’m not saying you should never spend your hard-earned money on acai bowls at your local hipster coffee shop. I’m asking if you know how much you’re spending on acai bowls at your local hipster coffee shop (spoiler alert: way too much).
Even if you’re in the habit of tracking all your spending all month long (and major brownie points if you are), you might not be in the habit of reviewing your budgets from previous months to notice patterns.
This is a perfect thing to do in those monthly budget meetings I was talking about earlier! Especially look at how you spend your fun money or cash on any extras. Ask yourself this question as you do: Do my spending habits line up with my money goals?
If the answer is even close to “no,” make some changes! Cut back your spending or cut out some budget lines completely.
If it’s a “yes,” then pat yourself on the back and keep trucking through the rest of these tips on how to improve your budget.
3. Find ways to save on your bills.
What about those regular bills and essentials expenses you have to pay each month? What if you found ways to spend less on all of those? Wouldn’t that make your budget feel better? (That’s rhetorical. The only answer is yes.)
- Start meal planning to save on food.
- Do an electricity audit to see where you might be overusing (and overspending).
- Find a roommate to help with the cost of your rent or mortgage.
- Carpool, check out public transport, and ditch your car payment to save on transportation.
- Learn the cheapest cell phone plans and switch carriers.
I could go on and on about the best money hacks, but start with these!
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4. Check on your insurance policies.
Yeah, I know. Unless you’re an insurance agent, you probably don’t love talking about words like deductible and liability—but listen: Your budget is practically begging you to check up on your polices. Why?
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If you don’t have the right insurances—and the right coverages—you could be overpaying (which hurts the budget now) or end up in an uncomfortable and expensive situation (which hurts the budget later). And we all know how the saying goes, “Hurt budgets hurt people.”
What are the “right insurances?” Well there are really only eight types of insurance you need:
- Renters or Homeowners
- Long-Term Disability
- Long-Term Care (if you’re 60+)
- Identity Theft Protection
- Umbrella Policy (if your net worth is over $500,000)
And what are the “right coverages?” That’s not so easy to answer in a quick bulleted list. But if you take our 5-Minute Coverage Checkup, you’ll get a personalized, prioritized list of action items. It’s one of my favorite things to do when I have five minutes to spare.
Your future, new-and-improved budget is thanking you already.
5. Get rid of debt.
If you’ve got debt, it’s doing your budget no favors. In fact, it’s robbing this month’s budget to pay for last month’s spending. Or last year’s even.
Get rid of all your debt using the debt snowball method. When you’re debt-free, you’ll have your entire income back in action. You’ll have more money to pay for things this month and to start planning for your future.
6. Use a budgeting app.
Yes. There are apps for pretty much everything. Apps that help you make money, add cat images onto any photo, give you randomized life advice, and help you budget your money.
Some of you already have a budgeting app. Others work in spreadsheets or with pencil and paper. No matter how you budget, the important thing is that you’re budgeting—every single dollar you make, every single month.
But this isn’t an article about how you should budget—it’s an article about how to improve your budget. And taking your budget from paper or spreadsheet to an on-the-go app is a game changer.
Personally, I use the budgeting app called EveryDollar. It’s simple to use and goes where I go. So when I walk into Super Target for three-ply toilet paper and some French lavender foaming hand soap, but I see a Target Exclusive Beatles Revolver limited-edition vinyl and T-shirt bundle, I don’t have to wonder if I can afford it. I open EveryDollar and check to see if there’s anything left in the George Fun Money line. No overspending. No guilt-filled purchases. Just clarity on where I stand with my money as I stand in the store.
Get started with EveryDollar for free, and you too can have those clarity-filled shopping moments.
Don’t Wait to Improve Your Budget
My favorite part of this list is that everything on it is something you can jump into right away. As in this week even! So don’t wait. Get started on these ASAP.
And let me say, I don’t know why you’re wanting to improve your budget. Maybe you need more money for paying off debt or saving for your emergency fund. Or maybe you just need some more margin because of inflation.
No matter what—if you are budgeting and working to budget better—you’re on the right path. Keep. It. Up.
Improve Your Budget and Find More Money
Guess what. On average, people find $332 in their first month budgeting with EveryDollar. And you can get started for free!Try EveryDollar