2018 Budget… Start Slow.

I read a comment from someone recently that they had calculated they’d spent $367 in 2017 just on buying soft drinks from their one company vending machine. It highlighted that a dollar or two a day really does add up over a year! With 2018 fast approaching it’s a great time to start looking at your own spending and seeing where improvements can be made.

Pile of coins

Now unless you are very dedicated and precise in your budgeting (and we know plenty of people who can and do take it to this level), you may find it hard to track these ‘small-change’ purchases. If you’re just starting out on your budgeting mission keeping track of the small stuff is definitely daunting, indeed many people get frustrated at this point and give up due to this fiddly aspect of the task.

Setting and tracking a detailed budget for yourself will no doubt help you control you finances and achieve confidence in knowing where your money is going. Understanding where each of your income dollars is go each month is a very powerful habit to get into but like all habits it takes time to get into. Getting stressed about the frequency and precision of your budgeting isn’t helpful, and is most likely to end with budgets going out the window. What is more important is that you steadily challenge yourself to improve month on month.

In truth you don’t need to take budgeting to the black belt level in order to get a lot of the benefit. Just sitting down once a month and taking a broad look at what came in and where it went is much more likely to trigger you to subconsciously think about your spending each day. This will lead to improved financial decision making, which will hopefully lead you back to working more on your budgeting. For people who do budget they understand that it is a virtuous cycle, the more you do it the better you get, the more you want to do it.

For those that don’t yet budget the best way to get into it is to start slow, get the once a month reviews done and let the subconscious help you form the right habits. If you persist, eventually you’ll be a budget ninja and you’ll easily be able to detect those $1 purchases that can add up to big savings over the long term.