Quick Ways to Start Winning with Your Money

You’ve finally bit the bullet and started budgeting – congratulations. Simply having a budget is a huge step towards financial independence and a better quality of life. Of course, you also need to make sure that you’re comfortable sticking to your budget if you want it to work for you.

Whether you’re breezing through your budgeting strategy, or you’re already having trouble keeping yourself motivated, a time will come when you need to work extra hard to see the benefits of your budget. The good news is that we’ve got a few ways you can make sure that you’re winning with your money from day one.

1.    Always Budget to Zero

Budgeting to zero is a way of giving yourself more control over your finances. When you’re telling every penny of your money where it needs to go, you feel more in charge, rather than letting your finances take control of you. To create a zero-based budget:

  • Gather a list of all sources of income you have
  • Subtract any fixed expenses like food and mortgage payments
  • Address any common monthly expenses like entertainment and hygiene
  • Give every pound a name and a purpose, until you’ve got nothing left.

2.    Start Questioning Everything

A lot of people have problems with their money because they’re too nervous to shake anything up. We tell ourselves that the price we’re given for something is the best we’re going to get and leave it at that. However, while you might not be able to haggle over your rent and mortgage, you can shop around for better deals. These days, there are plenty of companies out there competing for your cash.

Comparing prices online gives you the chance to make sure you’re getting the best deal around. You can even compare the rates of any loans you decide to take out. Just use a comparison website to check your cash advance options like-for-like.

3.    Track Every Expense

As exhausting as it might sound, there are few things more beneficial than making sure you know where every penny of your money is going. Tracking everything from your rent payments to the money you spend on an impulse buy like a packet of crisps will ensure that you’re never left confused and wondering where your money went at the end of the month.

There are apps that you can use to track everything for you too – which means that you don’t have to spend all your spare time adding things up. Tracking your expenses will make it easier for you to see where your problem areas are when it comes to spending.

4.    Budget for Irregular Expenses

When you’re planning your budget, there will be some fees that you automatically think of, then others that you forget about until a bill turns up on your doorstep. Make sure that you don’t forget to set money aside for those semi-annual expenses that we all hate. If you pay for your TV license once a year, or you only pay every so often for your car tax, make sure that you haven’t forgotten about those things.

Find out the full cost of the bills you might forget about each year and add them all together. Once you have a number, split it into twelve, and that’s the amount of cash you need to save each month towards those unexpected expenses.

5.    Have Small Goals and Big Goals

Goals are an excellent way to improve your chances of success with budgeting. A lot of people dream of owning their own house or going on a holiday. However, your targets don’t always have to be huge. You can also have little goals too. For instance, one goal might be that you want to have plenty of money aside to throw an amazing Christmas celebration or a birthday party for your kids.

Another goal could be that you want to buy a new television or redecorate your living room. Give yourself the freedom to have different kinds of goals for your money.

6.    Give yourself a Break

Finally, remember that no matter how hard you work on sticking to your budget, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up making a few mistakes. You’re only human, so give yourself a break and don’t get too upset about it. Take every budgeting mishap as a chance to learn and re-assess your spending habits. If you keep overspending in one area, look for ways that you can reduce your chances of facing the same problem in the future.

Budgeting is a lifestyle and something you need to commit to every day. The more you work at it, the more comfortable you’ll feel with your financial plan.


Arnel Ariate is the webmaster of Money Soldiers.

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