Budgeting is something that can take a lot of time to implement and complete each month. Especially if you sit down and try to account for every single dollar you spend.
If you have the time, patience and commitment, then it’s the best way to truly analyze and take control of your finances. But for the rest of us, there isn’t enough time each month to create a full blown budget.
Luckily, there are some budget tools that you can use to budget quicker and hopefully more efficiently than the traditional method. Let’s discuss a few of these budget ways.
Use an Automated Budget System
Budgeting programs are readily available to help you budget more efficiently. While these programs typically take a while to setup and to learn the software, once you are up to speed you can have your budget completed almost on autopilot.
These programs work by having you enter the information and logins for all of your financial accounts into the program. For that reason, make sure you don’t just use any budget program, but rather choose one from a reputable company that has no complaints against it from any of the online business bureaus. Once the budget program has your login information, it can go to your financial accounts and download all of your checking, saving, investment and credit card accounts directly into the program.
Once the information is downloaded, you’ll probably have to go through each transaction and classify what type of expense it is. Some of the programs can classify this for you automatically. The good news and what makes this a fast way to budget is that the programs will memorize the classifications you make so that the next month when you download new information, they will automatically be put in the category you chose the prior month.
Besides getting the financial information into the budget program quickly, these tools also do all of your budget calculations for you. They also produce slick looking graphs and charts with the push of a button.
If you don’t want to take the time to learn a budget software program, you could try a very simple way of budgeting called envelope budgeting.
Budget Faster Using an Envelope Budget
An envelope budget is a simplified version of budgeting that doesn’t require much preparation and time devotion each month. To create an envelope budget, you estimate how much money you spend on each type of expense. I would recommend excluding monthly fixed payments that you automatically pay online such as mortgage, insurance, property taxes and the like. For the rest of your expenses, you set an initial budget amount by dividing the rest of your monthly income and allocating to your various expenses. Make sure you put at least ten percent of your income into savings. Then, you literally label a bunch of envelopes with the expense that they represent and put the cash allloted to each category in that envelope.
Now, as the month goes on, you can only spend the amount of money that is in each envelope. For example, if you have an envelope for entertainment and you spend all of the money before the month is up, you’ll have to wait until next month to be able to spend more money on entertainment. The good thing about using an envelope budget, besides its ease of use, is that you can easily look into each envelope to see how much budget you have left for each expense.
Does this sound like something that would work for you? If not, there is always the good old fashioned bucket budget.
The Fastest Way to Budget is a Bucket Budget
Bucket budgeting is literally one of the easiest and fastest ways to budget. You start by creating three accounts. One account to pay all of your fixed monthly bills and non-discretionary items such as rent, vehicles, insurance and such. Another account is for savings, which should be at least ten percent of your income. And the third expense is the rest of your monthly income.
Set up your paychecks to automatically be split between these three accounts using direct deposit. Pay your bills from the non-discretionary account and use the discretionary account to cover all of the rest of your expenses, including entertainment, clothes, dining out and so on. When your discretionary accout is empty, you’ll have to wait until next month to refill it. Hopefully, by using this system you can learn to spend less and have extra discretionary money left in your account each month that you can rollover to the next month and eventually move to savings.
Hopefully, one of these budget methods will work for you, especially if you are crunched for time.
Have any thoughts or have a budget technique that use at home that saves time? Leave us a comment.