Best Budgeting Tips for 2020

These budgeting tips will help you conquer your finances in 2020

It might be a little late to think of a New Year’s resolution, but it’s never too late to get your budget in shape or resolve to save more money. Unfortunately, fewer Americans seem to be budgeting. A survey taken in 2019 found that only 67% of American families are on a budget, dropping 3% from the year before. Millennials seem to be especially guilty of not paying close attention to their spending habits, with loose ideas of savings, an unclear relationship with investments, and the idea that someone will always “take care” of them.

There are many reasons to start budgeting. It can help you to reach both big and small goals, get out of debt, and build your credit. Knowing how much money is coming in each month and how much is going out can also be a stress relief since you don’t have to worry about overspending.

Living within a set budget often is the difference between success and failure with your money.

Living within a set budget often is the difference between success and failure with your money.

If you’ve been avoiding creating a real budget because you don’t know how to do it, it’s easier than you might think. It starts with being honest about your finances, creating goals, finding where you can make improvements, and creating new goals based on those improvements. Thankfully, there are many tips, tricks, and tools you can use to make budgeting easier, so you can get in control of your finances in 2020 and beyond.

Utilize Your Digital Devices

If you are one of the 3.5 billion smartphone users of the world, you have the ability to make a budget in the palm of your hand. There are dozens of financial management apps available, including budgeting apps like Mint to help you spend less, or Personal Capital for tracking your spending.

The best thing about using apps or other forms of technology, like a free budget calculator, is that you can update them almost instantly if anything changes. Financial tracking apps allow you to input everything from your morning coffee to your monthly bills, so you have a clear and accurate picture of money coming in and going out.

Don’t be afraid to look over a variety of different apps for budgeting. Some are more flexible and allow you to set goals, like You Need a Budget, while others like PocketGuard are designed to keep you from spending too much. Finding the right apps for you will help to ensure that you keep using them regularly.

Pay Off Old Debts and Start Fresh

If you have student loans, a car payment, a mortgage, or credit card debt, you’ll have to factor that debt into your budget. Some “debts” can feel worse than others, like falling behind on your credit card. The sooner you get out of debt, the more room you’ll have in your budget. Plus, you will improve your credit score!   Of course, it is not always that easy to climb out of debt when you’re in too deep. If you’ve had trouble paying off your bills or you tend to spend too much on your credit cards, you might benefit from a financial management class, or learn more information on how to boost your FICO credit score. Nearly 170 million Americans have credit cards and therefore, credit card debt. So, if you’re struggling to stay on a budget while paying off debts, know you’re not alone. But, getting out of your debt as quickly as possible will help you to experience financial freedom. If you’re on a budget and you still want to pay off your debts, try some of these quick tips:

  • Pay off the biggest debts first (or those with the highest interest rates)

  • Sell unwanted possessions for extra payments

  • Stop using your credit card until the debt is paid off

  • Pay more than the minimum amount on your bill each month

Analyze Your Expenses

One of the biggest parts of creating a solid budget is to take a look at your monthly expenses. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to settle for what your bills say. Take a closer look at everything from your utility bills to the things you subscribe to each month like streaming services, food delivery, etc. Sometimes, there may be hidden fees you’ve been unaware of for a long time. Or you might have subscribed to something on a “free trial” basis and forgot to delete it once that free period was over, taking money from your account each month. Checking those things out is a quick and painless way to add a few dollars back to your budget. When it comes to utility bills, you might also be able to negotiate different prices on things like cable or your cell phone. Most major providers just want your business, so if that means shaving a bit off of your monthly bill, they’ll often be willing to do it if they can keep you on a contract. It’s also important to make sure the things you’re paying for are legal. For example, if you live in an apartment, there’s a risk of being charged for things that aren’t legitimate, like non-refundable deposits. There’s a difference between a fee and a deposit. As long as no damage is done and you meet the standards of your apartment deposit or pet deposit, you should get the money back when you’re ready to leave.

Work for Perks

Finally, you can add a bit to your budget by utilizing things like credit card rewards or coupons from your favorite stores. Some credit cards and loyalty programs offer cashback for every dollar you spend. It might not seem like much. But, if you choose to save that money over time, you can eventually use it toward debt, or to make an extra house payment each year, which can give your budget a boost. It’s always a good idea to start budgeting and stay ahead of the financial game. By using some of these tips, creating and implementing a budget into your life can be easier than ever, and you will have balanced finances to prove it.

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Noah Rue - He is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn't searching out his next great opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the mountains and read novels based in the American Southwest.

Guest Writermoney, budgeting, tips