What do skunks, bears, groundhogs, and bees all have in common? They’re all animals that hibernate during the winter. As the temperature begins to drop in the fall, the creeping chill forecasts even colder weather to come. At which point, you might wish you could join the bears and bees. As much as you’d love to roll up into your burrito blanket and binge-watch Netflix for the next several months, you have responsibilities that prevent you from taking a long wintertime hiatus.

Between household fall maintenance, winterization, and the holidays, you have a lot of things to do and buy in the upcoming months. You need to pay attention to your finances now more than ever to make sure you can take on what the season has in store. The budget is your biggest tool for surviving any expensive time in your life, but it comes at a cost. You need to work on it before it helps you save more and spend less. So step away from the couch and put down your remote control. Take a moment to work on your budget with these two things in mind.

1. You should make goals

A budget is an excellent gauge of your finances because it accounts for your spending and earnings objectively. When made accurately, there’s no doubting what’s going on with your finances. Once you take the time to tally your expenses against your income, you’ll be able to see spending habits that put your financial flexibility at risk. If it shows you’re spending too much or making too little, you’ll see it easily with your budget.

In that way, it’s a great resource for making a positive change in your life. When you realize you’re either spending too much or making too little, you can use your budget to reach a goal of spending less or earning more.

For example, if you’re like the average American, then you spend $1,100 each year on your caffeine fix. That’s a considerable boost to your savings if you manage to eliminate it entirely.

Sometimes, however, the black and white of cash isn’t enough of a motivation to change your habits, especially if your daily coffee is one of the few treats you allow yourself. A goal can help make sticking to these budget cuts easier because you can focus on the goal rather than the limitations you have to follow to reach them.

This fall, make sure you have goals in mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s preparing for the upcoming holidays, going on a summer vacation, or simply investing in a new vacuum. Naming your goal can increase your chances of sticking to your plan.

2. You should value your best efforts

In the perfect world, you’ll be able to eliminate every one of your bad habits and reroute that cash towards your savings. In reality, it can be hard going without the things you’ve grown used to having, especially when you cut them out all at once.

Habits are hard to break. Experts say it can take as many as 66 days to change your ways, so you can expect to fall off the bandwagon once or twice before your new spending habits stick.

On top of that, you may be dealing with emergencies that put pressure on your existing finances. The fall can be an expensive season as you prepare your home for winter and the holidays. The seasonal repairs and other purchases you need to make can eat into the expendable cash of each paycheck.

A healthy savings strategy isn’t always putting all your expendable cash into savings. Even financial experts suggest you only put 10–20 percent of your net income towards your savings. They advise you split this percentage even further between different kind of savings, including an emergency fund, retirement plans, and debt reduction.

You shouldn’t feel discouraged if you can’t make a full 20 percent contribution on your first try. Every little bit counts — even savings of 0.5 percent of your income is better than nothing. Any savings have a compounding effect on your finances. When you can put even just a small part of your income towards bills, you’ll be able to pay off these debts faster. Once you pay off one bill, this frees up more cash to put towards the next debt, so you can pay it off faster than the first. This cycle continues until you’re debt free.

That being said, it will take you longer to build an emergency fund that will stand up to big bills and repairs. While you’re building your savings from scratch, you should learn about direct lenders as a financial backup. These lenders offer online short term loans that work quickly and conveniently to cover unexpected bills and repairs you can’t afford on your own. Some work on an expedited timeline, making them ideal for urgent bills. You should check out this payday loans direct lender to see how quickly they can work to get your online cash advance in your hands.

You shouldn’t underestimate these tips. Though relatively simple, they can have a profound impact on your finances. The fall is the perfect time to use these ideas to your advantage. With the holidays around the corner, these budgeting tips can help you avoid the expense of the upcoming weeks.

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