Controlling your money before it slips away from you is the first and most practical purpose of adhering to a monthly budget plan. The idea is to keep things as simple as possible so you do not have to worry about complicated formulas and save time while managing your money. You should be able to consult your budget whenever you need to but shouldn’t have to spend hours burning up brain cells in the process. At least 15 minutes a week is sufficient time to keep an eye on your spending habits.
The first step is obviously to set up a budget plan that is easy to work with. There are several nifty budget software programs out there but too often these are filled with extra features you will hardly ever find useful. As we said the goal is to keep things simple. A spreadsheet works quite well even if you only use basic totaling formulas per column you need in your budget. If you still don’t know where to start, You can download a great budget template spreadsheet for free by clicking the link.
Now that you’re sorted with a blank budget template, let’s see how you can work with it to get the most out of our money.
When looking at some popular budget software you will find so many categories and even subcategories that need to be filled in. This also makes the task of budgeting much more cumbersome. With our spreadsheet, on the other hand, it is easy to keep to fewer columns by grouping your expenses in simpler broader categories that reflect your personal situation more accurately.
Decide from the beginning to always try to use cash for purchases wherever possible. Apart from those account payments which go off automatically via debit order, you should be able to increase your savings if most of your spending is limited to cash. Expenses like petrol, groceries and airtime are better taken care of with cash. And then aside from these, you will quickly discover where sometimes you spend on things you could probably do without.
Another area that will benefit from simplifying your approach to budgeting is by reducing the actual number of accounts you keep to manage your money. Some people have various accounts from different banks which are all unnecessary. Add to this the high bank charges which everyone is complaining about here in South Africa. You are better served by one main account for your salary to go in, perhaps an additional savings account, and if it suits you an investment account. But in most cases a single bank account will do just fine.
Credit cards as tempting as they are to own and use, soon become a means of spiraling debt if you’re not careful. So if you absolutely have to have a credit card let it be just the one card. You don’t gain anything of prestige by carrying multiple cards around in your wallet as some people would have you believe. Instead, they just bring more hassles and added interest charges. And talking about interest charges, credit cards are extremely expensive in this regard. Watch out also for retail credit cards offered for free by South Africa’s most popular shopping chains. They too come with exorbitant interest rates which are known to silently eat away at your income without you noticing.