Learning to budget isn't easy, but living it once you have one can be even harder.
That's why the Deseret News has spoken to three self professed budgeting experts to help provide some tools and insights into not only creating a detailed budget, but applying one as well. The following are 10 unique but practical tips for living a realistic budget.
First thing's first. In order to live your budget well, you should have a good system for budgeting.
To help us understand how to better plan for the financial future, the Deseret News received some advice from Peter Blatt, an investment advisor based out of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
"Look to see what you think you spend per month," he said, "then figure out why your number is lower than your actual spend. You will be surprised where all the money goes. It helps you reduce expenses."
Blatt also thinks the best way execute your budget, once you've thought backwards, is to actually stick to it.
"Go food shopping with an exact number in mind," he told the Deseret News.
"If your weekly budget is $200 then do not spend more than $200 for the week. Bring a calculator with you while you shop (or smart phone with that option) and keep track as you go."
As far as practical tips for keeping the costs down at home, Blatt says he always reminds his clients that a few degrees can make all the difference.
"Keep your air conditioner two degrees warmer when you are not home," he told the Deseret News. "A digital thermometer can save you several hundred dollars per year. It keeps your heater and air conditioner more efficient when you are away from home."
Kalianna Dean, managing editor of the Australian personal finance site Credicard.com.au, told the Deseret News that when it comes to making a budget, aesthetics matter.
"Make your budget something you enjoy looking at and doing," she said in an email.
"This means using your creativity and putting in colors you like, adding pictures of the things you're saving for and writing inspirational messages alongside that boring old spreadsheet or list.
"It will make the experience that much more powerful when you see the fun side of it and understand the real
purpose of your budget every time you open it up."
Once you've got the look of your budget spread sheet down, Dean things the easiest way to follow through is to keep up your house.
“Don't put off repairs,” she said. “While it may be a stretch in the short term to cover certain household repair expenses, fixing something small before it becomes a bigger problem will end up saving you big time in the long run.
"Same goes for regular dental checkups and basic teeth work — so make that
appointment and keep it!”
Besides just staying on top of home repairs, Dean also believes you should keep up with your bills by paying as many as possible all at once.
“Don't leave money in your account that you know really should be for an upcoming bill,” she said. “You'll be too tempted to spend it.”
Dean also thinks that executing your personal or family budget works best as a community effort.
"For example, everything from car sharing to holiday swaps have really taken off in the current economic climate, she said.
"Whether you need to rent some tools for a repair job or you want somewhere
to stay cheaply away from home, there's probably a share business that's
offering it for a much better rate than you'd get the 'normal' way."
Finally, Dean thinks one important way to save that is often overlooked is taking advantage of social media and promotional sales.
"you want to be there first when special offers come up and when great competitions appear that you have a chance of winning," she said. "Follow them, sign up to their newsletter and
comment every so often. You never know when they might like what you say
and reward you with a discount, gift voucher or something else."
In our quest to know better ways to apply a budget, the Deseret News also recieved some advice from Jodi Furman, auther of the life style blog Live FabuLess, which focuses on "living an upscale life" at an affordable price.
"Be sure to familiarize yourself with your favorite stores' policies so you
have them in your arsenal of savings tactics," she said. "Some stores will not only match their competitors' prices but often they'll even beat them by an
"By going to a store that will match a
competitor's price, especially on a hot item, you're not only more likely
to find it in stock but you're also likely to avoid a mad house."
To help bring down at least one costly fixed rate bill, Furman added that most auto insurance providers offer discounts for various things, such as:
1. Being a good student (if you or your child is a full-time student under 25)
2. Anti-theft devices, if you own a home (even if it's not insured with the same company),
3. Setting up automatic payments
4. Paying your premium all at once rather than over time.