One of the keys to building a successful budget is to continually reevaluate your income and variable expenses, accounting for any needed adjustments.
Even the strongest budget could have been flipped on its head at the onset of COVID-19 as many found their finances in a new state of fluctuation.
Proper money management strategies can go a long way toward keeping your finances healthy through the pandemic and ready for future success. Here are tips to help manage your finances, adjust your budget and save more.
Evaluate Expenses Regularly
Even the best budgets require a tune-up periodically. In a time of fluctuation such as the present, it is best to evaluate your budget at least monthly to account for any changes in expenses.
Costs related to your daily commutes, including gas and public transportation may have decreased in the past year, and the few bucks you might have spent on your daily coffee run may now be padding your wallet as you get your caffeine fix at home.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to see your income remain steady during this time, you may find yourself saving more money as a result.
Consider putting these added savings into a rainy-day fund, increasing your 401(k) contributions (especially if your employer matches), or to pay down debt such as student loans at an accelerated rate.
Look for Additional Savings
While savings on transportation and trips to restaurants may be the first items that pop into your mind, there are many other ways you can look for additional expense reductions.
Consider renegotiating your cable, Wi-Fi, mobile and other similar contracts with your providers. Many providers offer promotional deals that could save you hundreds during the course of the year and may even result in upgraded services if your router or cable box is outdated.
Take a close look at your monthly statements for other regular costs such as gym memberships and music subscriptions that you may find yourself no longer using and consider cancelling them. If you haven’t already, consider signing up for online or mobile banking to more closely monitor your accounts in real time and look for savings.
What may seem like minor monthly costs for subscription-based services can add up to hundreds or even thousands in savings over the course of the year.
If you find yourself shopping more online for household and grocery products or for dining, consider using a cash back credit card. Many cash back cards have increased percentages for groceries and dining and using a credit card wisely is safer than using debit cards online, as Federal law also caps your liability for fraudulent credit card purchases at $50, whereas debit cards can be higher.
Another area for potential savings is on insurance, including your car insurance. While it may seem tedious to get quotes from different providers each year, it could save you hundreds, especially if you’re driving less these days.
Tax season is also just around the corner. If you work in a city with an additional wage tax but found yourself working from home most of the year, you may be eligible for a refund. Consider speaking with a tax professional this year, as the savings they help you find will likely outweigh any fee.
Never Stop Learning
Learning should be lifelong and includes financial education and money management.
There are a wealth of resources online to help you increase your financial confidence, from articles and books to podcasts and interactive tools. Choose the method that works best for you and “hit the books.”
The pandemic has only emphasized the need to keep a close eye on your finances and budget for both the short and long term.
It is important to remember to reevaluate your budget on a regular basis and continue to live within your means. With proper goal setting and money management, you may even find yourself saving more now and in the future as you set yourself up for financial success.
Helping you boost your financial intelligence.
Read our financial resources from your friends at WSFS.