There are a few tools that are available to help you:
- Internet Banking
- Make use of Internet Banking at your financial institution. This is a cornerstone of my budgeting method. Learn how to use this effectively, and you can seriously limit the number of trips you need to make to the bank.
- Bill Payments
- Use the Bill Payment feature on the internet banking site to also limit your trips to the bank to pay bills. Simply add each vendor to your Bill Payment section and enter your account numbers. Once set up, you can simply go the the Bill Payment link and pay bills directly from the comfort of your own home. You can even have the bill vendors email your bills to you online. Once the bill arrives, go to your Internet Banking site and pay the bill.
To get started, go to your local library and find the book called "The Automatic Millionaire" by David Bach. This is probably the single most important book I have ever read. It changed the way I do my finances entirely. Read this book from front to back, and back to front. It is full of great tips and advice to get yourself on track to saving your money, RRSPs, investments, and much more.
David Bach has written several books on the subject of finances and I credit him with being the one to open my eyes to all of this. His website is www.davidbach.com.
Next, sit down and make an honest list of all of your expenses. Be sure to include everything you can think of. Be sure to list all normal expenses, Rent, Food, Hydro, RRSP, etc. plus any expenses you can think of, or want to set money aside for. List all the expenses and write the monthly cost for each:
Depending on how you are paid (weekly/semi weekly, etc.) divide the monthly cost and enter it into the 3rd column.
EXPENSE MONTHLY WEEKLY / SEMI-WEEKLY
Rent $1000 250 500
Food $200 50 100
Hydro $100 25 50
Phone $50 12.50 25
At your bank, ask if you can open up sub-accounts - if you can (and you should be able to), you should be able to transfer money between them freely using Internet Banking. This is critical to make budgeting simple.
At the bank, create as many sub-accounts as required, based on what you want to save for. Give each account a name:
Sub 1 Bills
Sub 2 Travel
Sub 3 Clothes
Sub 4 Christmas
Create and name your accounts however you want.
Use each account by determining how much you want to save in each account each payday. Set the account up to transfer this amount to the sub accounts on a regular basis (payday is a good time).
Once the accounts are created and set up, you will not have to think about them. By automating this, the money will transfer to your desired accounts as you decide.
Another cornerstone of budgeting is to open an account at a bank that offers high interest savings. This can be used as a secondary bank account, and you should use the two in conjunction. The bank that I very highly reccommend is ING Direct www.ingdirect.ca. Open an ISA (Investment Savings Account) - See "Free Money" post on my Blog to learn how to do this.
A post on how to use the ING Direct website may follow in the weeks ahead....
Create a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel (or another spreadsheet program) to keep track of your budget. It should look like this:
EXPENSE MONTHLY COST WEEK 1 WEEK 2 WEEK 3 WEEK 4
RENT 1000 250 250 250 250
FOOD 200 50 50 50 50
HYDRO 100 25 25 25 25
PHONE 50 12.50 12.50 12.50 12.50
List your other expenses the same way.
At the bottom of your spreadsheet, you can summarize your budget if you wish.
Once your budget is how you like it, save it to a safe place (You don't want to lose it). Create a shortcut to the file on your desktop for easy access. It will come in handy when you need to open it.
On payday, you can refer to your spreadsheet to move the money around, or you can automate it.
Online assistance is available for $40.00 per hour, payable through PayPal. For more information, or to set up an online consultation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.