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8 Budget Tips for Staying Within Your Means

July 31, 2020

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Only one in three Americans actually makes a monthly budget.

Budgeting can seem like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Budgets can help you stay within your means, which is important if you want to save and be financially stable.

We’ve compiled eight psychology-backed, easy-to-implement budget tips. Try them out and find what works best for you. 

1. Reframe your thinking

Psychologists have reservations about the word budget. Some research shows that it makes us feel the way we do when we hear the word diet. 

When we try budgeting, we often feel we’re coming up short, although the point is to make you more money.

So let’s rename it.

Call it your spending plan. A simple word change might make you feel different about budgeting.

2. Know what you can spend

Make your budget simple. All you need to know is how much money you need for bills and how much for fun.

To get that number, total up your monthly income, then, subtract your rent, loans, utilities, and food. The remainder is what you’re working with.

If you’re looking at some extra cash, it’s good to set aside money for an emergency fund or long-term savings.

Now, whatever you have left is what you’re working with for fun spending. This will give you a really good idea of where your money goes and how much you can spend.

Remember just because you can have enough money to buy something, doesn’t mean you can afford it.

3. Try the envelope method

Ditch the spreadsheets.

If you’re looking for an easy way to track your spending, try the envelope method

Figure out where you spend most of your money. Groceries. Restaurants. Gas. Make an envelope for each and put the amount of cash you think you spend in a month into it.

When you’re going to spend, grab the envelope labeled for the activity and pay with the cash.

At the end of the month, see how you did. If the envelope is empty, you’re overspending. If not, then give yourself a pat on the back. 

4. Get a budgeting app...

If envelopes are too old school, get a spend planning app. 

Most apps need to connect to your bank account and credit cards to track your spending. 

If you have a specific category where you know you overspend, set up a push notification to let you know when you’re reaching your limit. 

That little alert can be the friendly reminder you need not to check out with your Amazon cart full of random items.

5. …and use it

Setting up the app is the easy part. The hard part is actually checking it.

Make a point to look over your spend planning app every two weeks. You might be shocked at some of your spending trends. 

If you’re spending $100 a month on Starbucks, it might be time to start french pressing at home. 

6. Be Honest

No matter how you budget, planning will help you see where your money goes.

Bills you have to pay, but fun spending can always be cut back on. 

Figure out where your extra money goes and lifehack your way to curb spending.

If online shopping is your kryptonite, unsubscribe to marketing emails and add an adblocker to your browser. 

If you go big at the grocery store, order online for pickup to avoid the aisles that tempt you most. 

7. Get peer pressure

Recent studies show that accountability can be a game-changer when it comes to saving money. 

Find a friend who wants to save with you. Check in with each other regularly to stay on top of your spending. 

You’ll get a big dose of motivation from having someone else to report to. Together, you and your savings pal can get your spending in order.

8. Make your money goals achievable

If you’re thinking about budget tips, it’s probably because you have a financial goal in mind. 

Psychologists say that to set effective goals, you need to break them into small, manageable pieces. 

Making a goal to pocket $100 each week is easier than saying you’ll have $5,000 in the bank in a year. 

Having your achievable goal in mind can help you stay focused and avoid spending on things you don’t need (or even really want). 

These budget tips should make it easier for you to get a handle on your money. Try each one out and find the method that works best for you. 

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank (“Bank”). Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

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Kacie Goff

Kacie Goff

Kacie Goff has over five years of experience writing personal finance content for a wide range of audiences. She's always loved taking complex concepts and distilling them down so they're more accessible to others. As she creates content, she aims to educate and engage, helping people discover that successfully managing their money can be easier than they ever imagined. Over the last five years, she’s also covered personal and commercial insurance, home design, health and wellness, and more for publications including Bankrate, Freshome, The Simple Dollar, and websites of a broad variety of businesses. Her brand is Jot Content (

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