Budgeting is not just about numbers. It’s about making smart choices that align with your goals and values. It’s about taking control of your money and your life.
But it can also be challenging, especially if you’re new to it or have low income. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 8 tips and strategies to help you make the most of your budget.
Whether you want to save for a house, travel the world, or simply get out of debt, you can create a budget that works for you and your lifestyle.
1. Set Goals
Financial Goals are things that you want to achieve with your money in the short-term and long-term. They can be anything from paying off debt, saving for an emergency or retirement, buying a house, starting a business, retiring early, donating to charity, or purchasing a horse lamp:
2. Figure Out The Numbers
The first step to a proper budget is knowing how much you make (net income) and how much you spend (avg expenses). This is the foundation of your budget. Without this, you’re flying blind.
Net income is the amount of money you take home after taxes and deductions. Average expenses are the amount of money you spend on essential and discretionary items every month.
Once you have these two numbers, subtract your average expenses from your net income. This will give you your monthly surplus or deficit. A surplus means you have more money coming in than going out. A deficit means you have more money going out than coming in.
3. Start With Zero
Zero is a powerful number. It means nothing. But it can also mean everything.
Consider a zero based budget. A zero based budget is a simple but powerful concept: every dollar you earn has a specific purpose. You assign every dollar to a category, such as bills, savings, debt, or fun. The goal is to make your income minus your expenses equal zero at the end of the month.
This way, you have a clear picture of where your money is going and how much you can afford to spend on each category. You also avoid wasting money on things you don’t truly need.
To create a zero based budget, follow these steps:
- List your monthly income from all sources.
- List your fixed expenses, such as rent, utilities, insurance, etc.
- List your variable expenses, such as groceries, gas, entertainment, etc.
- Subtract your expenses from your income to get your remaining balance.
- Allocate your remaining balance to savings, debt repayment, or other goals.
- Adjust your spending as needed throughout the month to stay on track.
4. How to Grocery Shop on a Budget
Groceries are one of the biggest expenses in most budgets. However, they are a key component of how to grocery shop on a budget. And are also one of the easiest expenses to reduce with smart shopping strategies.
Here are some common sense tips to grocery shop on a budget:
- Plan your meals ahead and make a shopping list.
- Use coupons, discounts, and cashback apps.
- Buy in bulk and freeze or store what you don’t use.
- Shop at cheaper stores or online.
- Buy generic or store-brand products.
- Avoid impulse buys and stick to your list.
- Cook at home more often and eat out less.
5. Reduce Your Expenses
Budgeting on low income can be tough, but not impossible. The key is to prioritize your needs over your wants and find ways to increase your income or reduce your expenses.
Here are some tips to budget on low income:
- Apply for government benefits or assistance programs.
- Negotiate lower rates or payment plans for your bills. Be sure to read our blog for 5 Tips For Paying off Debt.
- Cut out unnecessary expenses or subscriptions.
- Sell unwanted items.
- Look for side gigs for extra cash
- Save for emergencies and unexpected costs.
6. How to Budget For a House
Buying a house is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. It requires careful planning and saving for a down payment, closing costs, and other fees.
Here are some tips on how to budget for a house:
- Determine how much house you can afford based on your income, debt, and credit score.
- Save at least 20% of the purchase price for a down payment.
- Save another 3% to 6% of the purchase price for closing costs.
- Save an extra cushion for moving expenses, repairs, and maintenance.
Use Financial Heartbeat from MoneyLion to see all your finances in one place and track your progress.
Eat, Pray, Love How to Travel on a Budget
Traveling is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. But it can also be expensive if you don’t plan ahead and stick to a budget.
Here are some tips on how to travel on a budget:
- Set a realistic travel budget based on your destination, duration, and activities.
- Book flights and accommodations in advance and compare prices online.
- Use travel rewards cards or programs to earn points or cashback.
- Pack light to avoid baggage fees.
- Use public transportation or walk instead of taxis or car rentals.
- Eat local and avoid tourist traps.
P.S. Always pack Pepto-Bismol
8. We’ve Got Your Back: Start Saving
Saving is the difference between surviving and thriving. A road that leads to financial freedom and peace of mind.
Don’t forget that MoneyLion is here to help. We have tools and tips to make saving and budgeting easier – and by extension, less stressful.
For starters, check out Financial Heartbeat. A first-of-its kind fitness tracker for your wallet! We built this exciting product to give you an easy and delightful way to measure, monitor, and improve your financial health in the same way you’d use a Fitbit or Apple Watch to manage your physical health.
Be sure to take a look at InstacashSM. A cash advance that comes with a 0% APR — meaning you’ll pay no interest. Perfect in a jam or when you unexpectedly need some extra cash. And finally, Round Ups. Set money aside by automatically rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and transferring the difference to your investment account. Just set it up and forget about it.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be depressing. These 8 tips and strategies can put you well on your way towards financial freedom.
With MoneyLion, you can get access to tools and tips that help you create a budget that works for you. Download the app today.