How I Improved My Budget Management

January 06, 2023

I'm still at a new-year high and up until now processing the year that has passed. Since the evaluation that I did in 2021 for my expenses, I realized the improvements that I have done in terms of handling money. I have been applying these new methods for two years now, and I just want to explicitly lay out here the techniques that I have learned that worked for me.

Having a Budget Planner and Expenses Tracker

I realized that it's really helpful to not just have a budget plan, but also a way to track your expenses. For the two years that I have been doing this (and will be planning to do this as long as I can), I had a good bird's eye view of how I was doing with my budget. 

I have mentioned this in my life logs and I'm mentioning it here again. One great game changer that I have done that monumentally changed how I navigate my lifestyle is using the You Need A Budget (YNAB) software. I continued to use this for a year, and just look at these beautiful visualization of where my budget was at in any given time of the year:

This is my monthly budget breakdown.

My favorite part is this Net Worth graph. I'm relieved to see its steady growth!

I really liked YNAB, because it felt like it gave me a lot of help on how I managed my budget and expenses. The only thing that I wasn't a fan of was the subscription fee. I thought that it was too expensive. And so when I learned that they were increasing their prices in 2022, I made the difficult decision of finding an alternative. Thankfully I found one -- Buxfer, which is almost 50% cheaper compared to YNAB. It also uses the envelope method of budgeting so the transition from YNAB to Buxfer had minimal mental pain.

Buxfer's version of Net Worth Trend. Whew, that's a deep dip there. 😲

(Religiously) Tracking My Expenses

This one is a bit challenging, but this is really the key in making the plan effective. What's the use of having the budgeting app if the values are not accurate? 😅 Fortunately for me, this has really been incorporated in my system. Before spending something, I check if I still have funds for that. It really helped me control my online shopping spree to stay within my budget.

At the end of the year 2022, I now have data of my expenses and I now have the capability to evaluate where my money went in that year. Looking at that list now, I see that some of my major expenses went to:
  • car-related expenses (loan, accessories, gas) 🚗
  • beauty items 💄
  • workout equipment 🧘‍♀️
  • pet food 😺
  • small appliances 💦
  • gadgets 📗
  • concert tickets 🎫
  • travel 🧳

Planning for Long Term

This is the most intimidating step for me, and it's something that I'm still learning to integrate into my system. I kind of did some practice already when I purchased my car and did all the research and calculating for autoloans, and I'm just so thankful that there is a lot of information available out there to help me make informed decisions.

I have always wanted to buy real estate property, so I'm doing my research to know which one is a great deal by calculating and comparing each agent's offer.

Aside from investments, I truly believe everyone should also have a retirement fund. We won't be corporate slaves forever, right. There will be a point in our lives wherein we will stop working. At that point, we should be ready with our finances. And so, the younger we start thinking of retirement, the easier things will be. However, as always, the best time to start is NOW. Again, there's tons of resources online that will help you with your retirement plans so it's easier to visualize and to quantify how much money we need to sustain this kind of lifestyle in the future. I feel some form of anxiety now that I'm typing this (😅) because I'm the type who really doesn't plan that long in the future. But I know, my logical mind knows that I need to think about this as early as now so that I would have some level of financial security in the future.

I hope this post serves as an inspiration for you to start your own budgeting technique. This will serve also as a reminder for myself about the habits that I will need to consistently execute to be financially independent for life! 💰

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