The B word (budget), much like the D word (diet), is enough to make most recoil. It’s too much work, too hard to stick to a plan, or too easy to miss out on fun. However, just as taxes and death are two certainties in life, managing money — however good one might be at it — is another universality that unites us all.
We called upon various women to share their best money advice. Whether it be managing spending, adopting a useful mindset, or a handy trick or two to make your savings go the distance, below are some tried and true tips for becoming smarter with budgeting (so you can have your smashed avocado toast and eat it, too).
Set Concrete Limits For Yourself
“Have a separate debit card/account for your fun spending money. Whatever my allocated ‘fun money’ is for the pay period gets transferred straight to that card, and it is the only one I use if I go out to dinner, want to buy a new pair of shoes, grab drinks with friends, etc. When it runs out, that’s it until next pay!” — Crystal
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“I work out how much I’m allowed to spend over a period and divide it by seven to show an exact amount I can spend per day. For example, $1,000 over a four-week period equates to roughly $35 a day. The good thing is that I don’t end up actually spending this amount, so it can either be saved or rolled over to the weekend.” — Mel
Get Smart About Bill Payments
“We all have large expenses, such as insurance, utilities, and rent that really shouldn’t take us by surprise. Take the time to add up these for the year, then divide by 12 (if paid monthly) and automatically transfer that amount into a high-interest savings account. That way, the big bills don’t set you back or put you on the credit card spiral. Making this change was the best step I ever took.” — Sally
Divide and Conquer
“I divide my budget into four accounts: everyday, expenses (groceries, etc.), debits (energy, insurance, etc.), and savings. I transfer everything out of my account as soon as I’m paid and allocate a set amount of spending money every month. This stays in my everyday account; anything leftover goes straight to savings. Debits and savings don’t ever get touched, so there are no surprises when that energy bill comes along!” — Carmel
Change How You Think About Savings
“Make savings a priority. Too often we approach budgeting with the mindset of: income less expenses = our savings. But we all know that expenses can be endless and it can be hard to save. So, change the equation to: income less savings = expenses (or what you have left to spend).” — Lea
Ask Yourself: Do I Need It?
“I have said this to myself so many times, it almost instantly comes to mind whenever I go to shop. As a result, I’ve not only saved money in the short term, but found myself investing in timeless and classic items, which hopefully means I’ll save even more in the long run. I’m not saving for anything in particular; however, I wanted to have at least one year’s salary in the bank as a rainy-day backup. I’ve now achieved that, so onto the next savings goal!” — Gemma Louise
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
“I set up a direct debit about four years ago to put away $50 per week from my account into an unlinked account. I can’t withdraw from it and I’ve never turned it off.” — Amanda
Make Your Spare Change Work Double Time
“I use a handy app called Acorns that invests your spare change on the stock market. You pop in your bank account and credit card details and it rounds up your daily purchases to put into a diversified portfolio. So if I spend $4.55 on a snack, it will invest the leftover 45 cents. Not only is it an easy entry point into the stock market, but it’s also great as a secondary savings account. Small change goes in there and suddenly, I have extra money without even noticing that I can withdraw at any time. Seriously, it’s the best.” — Tegan
Don’t Go Cold Turkey
“It’s easy to think that your quality of life will be worse off when you start cutting down on spending. So to start, set small, tangible goals for yourself within a time frame that can be easily measured. For example, try decreasing weekly coffees to ‘X’ number per week. Over time, you’ll get used to the new habit.” — Bronwyn
Have a Relationship With Your Future Self
“I have never lived week to week and have always been prepared for what was coming ahead. From my first job being paid in cash, I would divide the cash into envelopes, allocating small amounts to help with what I knew would be coming. I still do this today, but electronically. Every dollar is accounted for in a spreadsheet, all purchases go on a credit card to be tracked, and I always put aside money for future events. This can be applied on a small or big scale; for example, for Christmas, I put aside $150 per month and don’t feel bad splurging in December.”