Budgeting 101.4 – Automate and Polish

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Lady on mobile device happily looking at her awesome budget
Polish your budget with automation.

Making a budget is one of the smartest financial moves you can make and, if you’ve been following this blog series, you’ve essentially completed your budget!

  • In part one of this series, we tracked your income and expenses
  • In part two, we determined whether your net income was positive or negative, and broke your budget down
  • In part three, we set budgetary goals 

In this installment, you’ll set up automatic payments and learn what you need to know about tracking and adjusting your budget.

The Sixth Budgeting Step – Automate Deposits and Payments

Some of you may already be doing this, but if you’re not, setting up automatic payments can help make your budget run, essentially, on autopilot.

  • If you have the ability to set up direct deposit through your work, then your income can be sent to your savings or checking account.
  • If you’ve got a specific goal in mind, like setting up an emergency fund, you can have part of that direct deposit routed to an account you’ve set up specifically for an emergency fund.
  • If you have rent, loan payments and credit card bills, most of those can be paid automatically online, as well; this way, most–or all–of your fixed expenses can be taken care of, on time, without you having to remember them.

The Seventh Budgeting Step – Polish and Adjust

The final step to making a budget that works is sticking to it and adjusting as needed. It seems strange, but often, creating the budget isn’t the hard part–it’s following through that’s so difficult. Here are some tips for keeping with it:

  • Check in on your budget at the middle and beginning or end of each month. This way you’ll know if you’re hitting your goal, or if you have more of less money to spend than you thought.
  • If it’s been a few months and you’re having a really hard time staying on budget, be realistic and allow yourself a little wiggle room. A budget is supposed to help–not hurt–you.
  • If you get a raise or lose your job; move into a place with cheaper or more expensive rent; change your loan payments; or have your finances change in an way, you’ll need to reassess your budget.

You did it! Hopefully, after a few months of fine-tuning and adjusting, your budget is running like a well-oiled machine. And, if it’s not, stick around for the next installment about how to keep your budget running smooth when you hit bumps in the road. 

When you find it difficult to stick to your budget, check out the tips in this bonus budgeting post.

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Tom S.

Tom is a 2006 graduate of UW Madison, currently residing in Verona with his wife and 2 girls. He has been passionate about writing ever since he was 15 years old, and displays that same enthusiasm in his work today. When he’s not sharing insightful financial wisdom, you can find Tom chilling on the Union Terrace, enjoying craft beer at the Great Dane, or hiking at Governor Nelson State Park. In the Fall he loves to take his family to Badger Football games!