Budgeting is a complicated subject, or at least, that’s what most people will tell you, but in actuality, it is simply making sure you don’t have more money going out than you have coming in.

With VIP Finance’s top 10 tips for budgeting, we hope to help you see your money, debt, and budgeting situation for what it truly is – simple.

Budget Tip #1: Start (& End) with Zero

This is where it all begins (and ends). But, no, a ‘zero budget’ doesn’t mean you end the month without a penny to your name. Instead, it means that you make sure all of your money is going somewhere.

Let’s say you have $1,000 a month. This means that you will divvy that up into categories until there is no more – but that doesn’t mean you’ll use it all. In fact, one of your first categories should always be ‘savings’ – so you’ll have something to fall back on if Tip #2 escapes you.

Budget Tip #2: Know That No Two Months Are the Same

calendar for budgeting

If you spent exactly $1,000 last month, then it is unlikely you’ll hit that exact number again, because every month is different (both in money coming in, and money going out). Make sure you acknowledge this fact and plan accordingly.

If you plan to put $100 towards food every month, and one month it’s only $85 and the next it’s $120, that’s okay – give yourself some wiggle room by understanding that there will always be some fluctuation.

Budget Tip #3: Debt Comes First (Always, Really, Truly)

Remember we said ‘one of the first categories should be savings’? This tip is why savings isn’t number one – because you have to pay your debt before you save, before you do anything.

If you have a slim month income-wise and can’t save as much as you usually do, that’s okay, your savings account is just a little low. But if you have a slim month and can’t pay your debts, there are usually big (expensive) ramifications.

So, make sure you know what’s most important – which is always debt.

Budget Tip #4: No More Credit Cards (Well, Almost)

If you have difficulty with credit cards, get rid of them! This doesn’t mean everyone has to get rid of all of their credit cards, as credit cannot be built without using it. But this does mean if you have a problem with credit cards you should get rid of the problem ones.

wallet with credit cards in it

If you have one with a max of $1,000, it’s probably okay to keep it. If you have an emergency card, it’s probably okay to keep it. But if you have a card you can’t seem to pay off every month, you’d probably be better off without it. It might be tough, but you’ll thank us in the end.

Budget Tip #5: Use an Online Tool or App

There are awesome (and free) apps and sites out there that give you all the tools you could ever dream of when it comes to budgeting. Some of our favorites are Mint or Everydollar because they’re simple to set up, simple to understand, and free.

Simple and easy? It almost sounds like they should be working for VIP Finance.

Budget Tip #6: Make a Schedule (& Know it)

This is one of the most important tips for people who don’t have a large ‘safety net’ or buffer in their checking – scheduling.

You might make $1,000 in a month and only spend $800, that means you don’t need a schedule, right?

Wrong.

Because if that $800 comes out in the first week, and you don’t get that full $1,000 until the second or fourth week – you’re in the hole for most of the month.

Make sure you know when big ticket items, like rent or your car loan, come out each month, and plan accordingly.

Budget Tip #7: Start from the Top

When you’re making categories, giving money to your ‘restaurant and happy hour’ fund first might not be a good idea. Start with the necessities – meaning rent, groceries, utilities, debt, savings, healthcare, car, etc.

After all the ‘need’ categories are satisfied, then you can use the leftover money to divide into the ’want’ categories, like happy hours, new shoes or cute, little outfits for your dog.

dog in a sweater in dallas

Budget Tip #8: Budget with a Buddy

This might not apply to everyone, but if you are married, living with another adult, or share rent or expenses with others, then making budgets together might be a great idea. This doesn’t mean your budgets have to match perfectly or have to include the same categories, but they should always include whatever expense is shared – and make sure those are being saved for first.

Budget Tip #9: Have Goals (Small, Medium, & Large)

Goals help us remember why we are budgeting in the first place. It can be easy to want to throw your budget out the window when you see something you really want, but with goals in mind, it makes it easier to say no to yourself in lieu of something bigger and better coming in the future.

Make small goals (I want to save __ in the next week), medium goals (I want to have __ in the bank by the end of the month), and large goals (I want to have ___ for a down payment by the end of the year).

dollar bill on a white desk

Budget Tip #10: Sometimes, You Just Need to Cut It Out

This might be as painful as cutting up those credit cards, but sometimes – you have to prune some things from your life. Maybe, after using a budgeting app, you realize that you spend $150 on coffee a month, maybe that ‘occasional retail therapy’ is actually setting you back hundreds every month.

Make sure you set realistic goals and aren’t too strict on yourself, but also realize that sometimes sacrifices have to be made in order to have a healthy bank account and credit score.

If you find yourself in need of some extra help to get you out of the hole, or if an unexpected expense comes up and surprises you, then contact VIP Finance of Texas, as we offer the longest term title loans with the lowest interest rates, so you can get out of debt faster!