It’s that time of year again…the time of year when resolutions are made and new goals are set. A time when good intentions can be turned into plans of action or set aside and forgotten. A time of year when I sit down and dream about what I want my next year to look like. I’ll admit that I fall into the category of most people and each and every year my New Year’s resolutions include two well known areas: weight loss and finances. While last year I finally found a way to meet my weight loss goals and get it to stick, I once again failed at my goals of saving money and managing my finances in the best way possible. So this year, I’m throwing all my effort into saving more, spending smarter and planning ahead for the things I’ve been dreaming of (like a brand new car) and the things that I know are quickly approaching (like a kid heading off to college). So, why do I think this year is going to bring me success when it comes to saving money? Well, I’ve got a little secret to share (a few actually) and I have to say these tips are already changing the way I look at setting and sticking to a budget. If you’re with me and ready to save more and make more of your financial dreams come true in the New Year, take a look at this surprisingly simple tips!
I’m going to admit, I should have the budgeting gene (if there is such a thing) in me. As the daughter of a banker and someone who started her career in banking, I KNOW the importance of saving money and spending smarter in order to make special purchases and have a nest egg. While I’ll admit that the hubs and I have gotten better about budgeting over our decade of marriage, we’re never really gotten to the point where we’re high fiving each other and saying “Wow! Look at how much we saved!”. But with a new car purchase looming in front of us and four short years until our oldest heads off to college, the need to budget better and find new ways of saving money is feeling more important than ever. So, I’ve been doing a little research and trying to find simple ways to make setting (and sticking to) a budget easier. While I’ll admit that it’s still a work in progress, there are a few tips, tricks and an awesome app that are boosting my confidence that 2017 is going to be our year of saving money! Here’s what we’re doing to make it work.
Get on the Same Page
In past years, I’ve always started the year with a budget. I’ve sat down and created spreadsheets and felt pretty prepared. I’ve probably even given them to the hubs but we’ve never really talked about them or discussed our ideas of what a money saving budget looks like. While I’ll admit that we do pretty well on our necessary expenses (mortgage, bills, etc) I think it’s fair to say that we both end up spending too much on the little extras. He loves to eat out at work. I’m a sucker for a good cup of coffee and freshly painted nails. We all have our own things, right? So, this year I decided that we needed to discuss those things. We needed to get on the same page about our spending and saving goals. And we needed to actually talk money instead of just assuming that we were both viewing our budget (or lack of budget) in the same way. All this required was putting together all our our expenses and taking a look at what comes in each month versus what goes out. Once we had that information, we were able to get on the same page and move on to the next step.
Discuss Goals and Dreams
As we looked at our income versus our expenses we realized that we were spending in places where we could be saving. While cutting back in certain areas might make our everyday living a little less fun, we began to see areas where we could really save for some of the things that we’ve been dreaming of. My car is almost ten years old and while I’m all about being practical, I’ve been dreaming of purchasing a new Tahoe this year. With boys that seem to get bigger each and every day, I need a larger car. Plus, it’s OK that I just think it’s a gorgeous piece of machinery right? In fact, we’ve already gotten prices for what I want which makes saving money to purchase it even more important this year. By putting an actual image to one of our dreams for this year (yeah, I went a test drove it to make it REALLY real), we’re finding it easier to cut spending on things that we really don’t need in order to save more to help ensure we reach out goals and dreams. For us, that meant finding the perfect tool to help us get there.
Use Every Dollar App to Make it Easy
With big budgeting goals in mind and the best intentions in place, I knew we needed a way to keep ourselves on track and help us be accountable. I’ve already admitted that in past years we’ve failed on budgeting. We’ve started the years just like we are this year with the best intentions only to slip back into the busy schedule of everyday life and totally put aside the plan we had created. I knew from past experience that printing out a spreadsheet wouldn’t work…it would just end up in the trash. A saved plan would simply be filed away and forgotten. We needed a way to always have our budget on us as a reminder of what we’re saving money for and how we plan to do it. That’s where the EveryDollar app came to the rescue!
In a digital age, we all have our phones on us…always. I know for a fact that the hubs and I check emails and text messages at least once an hour. So what better way to remind ourselves to stay on budget than with an always available app that manages money and tracks spending on the go and can be used on multiple devices and even different platforms? It was the perfect solution that we could both use no matter where we are during the day. After downloading the EveryDollar app on both of our phones, it took less than ten minutes to create our first month’s budget. We simply started by adding our income and then adding our expenses one at a time. *The screen shots below are NOT from our budget…while I share a lot, our finances are personal. They are examples only!*
EveryDollar made it so easy because everything was already broken down into the most common expenses. Honestly, there were areas that I would have forgotten had I been creating a budget on my own. Using the FREE version of EveryDollar, we had a plan within minutes that allowed us to set a goal of saving a certain amount of money each and every month to ensure that by November (which is our goal date) we’d be able to purchase the car of our dreams without having to worry about how we are going to pay for it.
That in itself was major. But just as important, we were able to really see where our money is going while setting parameters on expenses that in the past had sabotaged our goals of saving money.
One we started using the EveryDollar app, it became easy to manage our money on the go and not only have a budget but stick to it as a couple. After seeing how much the FREE version of EveryDollar helped, we quickly made the decision to upgrade to EveryDollar Plus which allowed us to connect our bank account so we could always see our balance and sync our expenses as well as create an unlimited number of budgets. For a small yearly fee, this allowed us even more insight into how we are spending and I think it’s going to be a great way to keep us on track since it gives us even more info on our spending habits!
Have Check-Ups along the Way
While the EveryDollar app is doing all the heavy lifting so to speak while making it easy to create a budget and stick to it, even on the go, our last step to budgeting success in 2017 is to have check-ups along the way. Right now, we’re setting down together with our EveryDollar app once a week to check our progress and keep each other accountable. Since we can access all our our information on the computer as well as our phones, we are able to easily view how the week has gone and where we need to improve. I think as we get more into the habit of using the app to help us make smart choices, we’ll be able to move to monthly check-up to ensure that we’re on track with our goal of saving money to purchase a new car. While I know that we could just both check our app and monitor ourselves, these conversations about how we’re saving money and why we’re doing it are a great way to keep us on track and motivated to meet our new goals!
I truly believe that for us, 2017 is going to be the year when sticking to a budget really works and I have to say, EveryDollar is the tool that I think will make all the difference. In the short amount of time we’ve been using it, we’re already making smarter money decisions and having conversations about goals, dreams and saving money that we having had in the past.
Now it’s your turn! Want to make 2017 the year where you really get your budget on track and start making some of those dreams a reality? Start by downloading the FREE EveryDollar App today. Then create your first budget in minutes and start seeing the areas where you can spend smarter and save more. By having all the information at your fingertips about your financial choices, you’ll be well on your way to making smart ones this year! If you want even more insight into your spending (and saving) habits, upgrade to EveryDollar Plus! It’s the perfect way to take control of your finances and ensure that this is the year when you get that dream vacation, purchase that new home or simply stop living paycheck to paycheck. It’s never been easier and it’s never been a better time to start than today!
Tell me, what are you saving for and how can the EveryDollar app help?