Budgeting 101

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Check out these budgeting tips from UW Credit Union!

How to Start

Chances are if you’re looking to budget, you’ve got a goal in mind, whether it’s paying off student loans or having some money set aside in an emergency fund. If there are multiple things you’d like to save for, start by making a list of the items and identify which are necessities and which are not. Once you have your goals prioritized, it’s time to begin managing your budget.

Track Your Spending

In order to understand how you are spending your money, start tracking your expenses. Keep a record of every expenditure, no matter how big or small, for an entire week. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you forget to record a purchase when you’re just starting. If carrying around a pen and paper isn’t working, try using a notepad app on your phone. If you’re having trouble remembering to record your purchases, set a reminder on your phone or write yourself a note and keep it in front of the cash inside your purse or wallet. Making a habit of saving all of your receipts can make this process considerably smoother.

Money Management Tools Make Budgeting Easier

Categorize and add personal messages to your transactions with Money Management Tools in Web Branch. Plus, access your financial reports through the UW Credit Union Mobile App or Web Branch to see where you are spending your money. It’s easy to stay organized because it helps you track and visualize all of your expenses with charts.

Creative Ways to Cut Spending

Review your spending for little items that add up to big monthly expenditures. The daily cup of coffee shop drinks and soda at a vending machine add up. Try to get in the habit of brewing your own fresh coffee right at home instead. Plus, consider packing your lunch rather than eating out every day. Spending $10 a day eating out during the week translates to $50 a week and $200 a month. A $5 packed lunch translates into a savings of $1,200 a year.

Lowering your restaurant and gas costs can help increase the amount of money you have available for savings and purchases. Instead of driving everywhere, try taking the bus, carpooling, biking, or even walking to places nearby. If you’re looking for fun things to do as a date night or friends night out, consider skipping going out to a movie or restaurant and stay in instead. Chances are you can do most things from the comfort of your own home by putting in a little extra effort to rent a movie and cook some food. Plus, you’ll be saving on those gas expenses by staying in.

Compare products in an attempt to get the best prices and best value. Do a little research before buying something, especially when it comes to more expensive items. Or, try shopping around a bit to see who has the best deals before you make a purchase at the first store you go to. Make the most of tools like phone apps for comparing prices and value.

Don’t go overboard for birthdays and holidays. Oftentimes people enjoy presents even more when you put in a little extra thought. This could mean making a homemade gift or spending a little less on something more meaningful. Also, try shopping in the clearance or sale sections – you’ll be amazed at what you can find!

When you make a budget, try to set aside some extra money for variable expenses, and be easy on yourself if you go over your budget sometimes. It can be difficult to get back on track if you let yourself get too frustrated over a mistake or two.

Have a Question? We’re Here to Help

To learn more, visit UW Credit Union website at uwcu.org or stop by the branch on campus.