Of Americans who made New Year’s Resolutions for 2020, 49% resolved to save money this year, and one of the best ways to save more is to create (and stick to) a budget. Eight months and one pandemic later, those budgets may be looking a little…worse for the wear.
Before heading into fall (anyone else ready for pumpkin spice and cozy sweater season?), take some time to give your personal budget a quick review to make sure it’s still driving you toward your goals.
Budget Tune-up Checklist
__ Check the ignition system (income).
The starter for any budget is the money available to spend. If you lost your job, were furloughed for a time, took a pay cut or saw any other change to your regular income, start by adjusting this number.
__ Clean up your engine (expenses).
If there’s been a decrease in income, there must also be a decrease in spending. Filter out any expenses that are unnecessary (e.g., gym memberships, music or movie subscriptions) and then find other ways you can cut back, like turning off lights and adjusting the thermostat.
Even if your income didn’t change, your expenses likely did. If you stopped going into the office, your gas budget probably hit the brakes while your grocery budget revved up. Review how you spent your money for the last few months, then reallocate dollars to better reflect your new way of life.
__ Adjust the systems that keep everything running smoothly (savings).
This year has shown us how quickly life can change, which has made even more clear the importance of solid savings and an emergency fund. If you have any extra cash available, start funneling a little more each month into a separate account to put aside for the unexpected. Verve’s KickBack Checking® and KickBack Savings accounts can even help you earn a little extra on everything you spend to build your savings faster.
It also looks like that big family vacation might not be happening any time soon, so why not put the money you’ve been saving toward something else? Verve’s Name Your Savings account can help you save for something specific, and if you decide to spend your ‘European Vacation’ fund on a ‘Backyard Oasis,’ we won’t tell!
__ Clean and calibrate your (budget) tools.
Your budget used to be a pretty stable thing, but now it looks a lot like a car on an icy road (which is to say, it’s all over the place). A simple paper-and-pencil (or Excel spreadsheet) budget is a great start, or try out one of the many budgeting options out there.