Budgeting is never easy. With a world filled with phone bills, rent, going out to eat with your girls, Netflix subscriptions, and your occasional dose of retail therapy temptation, who wouldn’t have trouble putting the fire out in their pockets? Luckily, tech professional and finance enthusiast Ashleigh Williams has given Girls United the tips and tricks to building better budgeting habits.
“Life during a pandemic can be hard and I recognize that. Therefore, my first piece of advice is to give yourself grace and recognize that times are tough. Life as we know it has been changed,” Williams told Girls United as she acknowledged how COVID-19 has rocked our day-to-day lives. “However, we can still be disciplined and take control of our finances at any point. Budgeting early prepares you for adult responsibilities, helps you afford the long-term lifestyle you desire, prepare for emergencies and can help eliminate debt early.”
Ahead, refer to Williams’ best budgeting tips while in a pandemic below:
Set Financial Goals: Financial goals are personalized. Set short and long term goals. Write these goals down and find an accountability partner that will keep you aligned to your goals
Set A Realistic Budget: Based on your financial goals, establish a budget. Figure out your monthly income and categorize your monthly expenses. Take a hard look at your expenses and attempt to reduce unnecessary expenses. I recommend that girls budget to zero and account for every dollar. Any dollar that is not going toward expenses should either be saved or contribute to a financial goal.
Start with a monthly budget and then break that budget down into a weekly budget to ensure that you are not overspending. A traditional budgeting style is the 50/30/20 budget. This budget style encourages individuals to allocate 50% of their income to needs, 30% of income to wants, and 20% of income to savings. Personally, I set my budget quite differently and am much more aggressive in my savings/investing category however, I recommend adjusting based on your personal needs.
Utilize Budgeting Tools: Some individuals take a traditional approach and write their budget out using pen and paper. Others prefer to use budgeting apps such as Mint, PocketGuard, etc., or bank-provided tools. Ultimately, it is important to plan out your budget and create a system that holds you accountable.
Automate Bills: Most bills can be automated. This allows for regularly scheduled payments to be deducted from your account. This helps avoid unnecessary late feed. It is also helpful to set bill pay reminders.
Eliminate Debt: Many expenses, such as entertainment and travel, have been reduced during the pandemic. Therefore, I recommend using this time to become more aggressive with paying off debt, specifically high-interest debt (such as credit cards and personal loans). Utilize online debt payment calculators to decide how you’d like to increase your payments and pay toward your principal.
Invest: I recommend using your spare time during the pandemic to learn the basic concepts of investing. The goal of investing is to make your money work for you and grow over time. Evaluate your risk tolerance, time horizon, and investing goals. Check out index funds, mutual funds, stocks, and even retirement plans that make sense for your long-term goals.