Budgeting Tips Archive

Spring cleaning and Budget Decluttering


With spring around the corner, you may be looking forward to spending more time outdoor and switching to a spring wardrobe. If you’re an adept of Spring cleaning, we bet you are also good at managing your budget. If you don’t feel it’s your case, here are how the arts of cleaning up and budgeting are linked.

Spring cleaning and budgeting are not natural

Let’s take two homes. One is clean, organized and the space not crowded with things. The second one is messy and crowded with things. You can be sure that the first home owners have the same organization and discipline with their budget while those at the second home have more chances to be in financial trouble. The good news is there is no fate. Actually cleaning your home efficiently and keeping a good budget can be learnt. They even share some basic principles.

Organization and efforts are the key to cleaning and budgeting

If you need some help to start, we think that the bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is an interesting read. Even if we can doubt the concept of thanking objects for the joy they give us, the idea of keeping only items that bring us joy is interesting. It teaches us to focus on the essentials and to separate ourselves from the rest. The author explains the art of categorization and that each item has its place in our home. If we apply this methodology to budgeting, we should evaluate each spending we make and evaluate what it brings to our life. If we only focus on what we need, we can eliminate unnecessary expenses and save. Also organizing expenses by category is an essential tip to keep our budget organized.

Objects and spending often have an emotional meaning

The emotional attachment we have for objects is one of the reasons why people have such a hard time decluttering their homes. For example, it can be hard to throw away a dress we wore for big occasions even if it is now a bit too small. Spending money can also become highly emotional, some of us make purchases to cheer themselves up or to fight boredom. This behavior doesn’t help keeping a balanced budget, as for the need of disconnecting ourselves from objects when decluttering, we need to separate our emotions from spending.

Start the decluttering process now

Successful decluttering and budgeting need the right mindset and a lot of efforts at the beginning. Trimming down the unnecessary and categorizing are keys. So start with sorting the objects you don’t need and give them a new life by selling them on an ecommerce website or by donating to charity. Then note down your spending to analyze where you can save. Putting some order feels very liberating.

Need some tips to start your first budget? Take a look at this article.

Choosing Your Budgeting Style


Are you already feeling anxious only at the view of the picture above? Does it echo your personal budgeting experience? Or is the simple fact of putting a budget together giving you nightmares? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And actually we have good news for you, there are many budgeting styles and strategies available to you. Let’s have a look at which methods you can follow and why.

I don’t have money, budgeting is not for me

Sorry but you’re totally wrong there. It’s actually because you  have a limited amount of money that you REALLY should start budgeting. The ultra wealthy may have a financial adviser looking after their investments but they don’t budget. They just spend when they feel like to because they can. Yes it’s unfair but you lose time thinking that way. In fact, budgeting helps making your time and money use more efficient. You may also think that budgeting is boring and involves a lot of calculation and math skills. Wrong again. I am not saying that it will be super easy at the beginning but once you find  out the method that suits you, it will become like a second nature. And you will get regular rewards and a feeling of accomplishment when your money is on track.

Here is a selection of budgeting styles:

The Reverse Budgeting Style

Pretty easy, you decide the amount of money you can take off from your paycheck each month and put it on a separate saving account. This method is great if you have a definite project such as saving xx$ for traveling the world for one year. But it may not be ideal if your budget is a bit more complicated to manage. You won’t also get much insight about what you’re spending and on what and definitely no global vision of your budget.

The Envelop Budgeting

With this method, you only use cash and assign a definite amount to each budget category. If an envelops gets empty, you will have to take from another one to top it up. Again simple and straightforward, maybe too much actually. When your budget gets a bit more complicated it may not be that simple to manage.

The 50/20/30 & co budgeting

Some personal finance gurus come up with pre made ratios dividing your money into fixed cost, financial goals and flexible lending. Another way to call it is 50% for the need, 30% for the want and 20% on saving goals and debt repayment. The approach of the need and want is pretty interesting. Of course you need to pay your rent if you don’t want to end up on a friend’s sofa. But you don’t absolutely need to buy the coat you saw last week. Sure it would be nice because it’s new and fashionable but your coat from last year can still do the job. The philosophy is good because it makes you think but the rule is too rigid. When you begin your career you may not be able to save as much as when you will get your first bonus. It’s great to have a general rule but when it may be difficult to stick to it when your personal situation changes or when you have to face an unexpected spending.

The Money Tracking Method

Some people prefer tracking and recording their expense down to the last cent. You don’t have to be that detailed but I personally like this method as it enables to quickly spot where I overspend. Information calls for quick action, you’re now able to think about ways to change the way you spend your money. One year I didn’t have enough money to join my friends on a weekend trip. Then after looking at my bank statements and receipts, I found out that I spent almost $2000 a year for the lunch I buy at the shop next door everyday. I could afford it but I want to do other things with my money. So I decided to cut down to twice a week and take my homemade lunch to the office. Tracking is great but then you need to be able to understand quickly where your money went. You can do that with excel but entering data may be a bit time consuming. That’s when mobile apps such as Quick Money Recorder becomes handy.

To conclude…

There are other methods for budgeting that weren’t covered here. The most important is to find the best for you. As your budget and goals change with time make sure you review your budgeting method regularly. You may think it’s time to switch method when your family gets bigger. Or if you are going through a hard financial time, you may decide to combine the envelop and tracking methods. Yes budgeting may sound hard but I was able to join my friends on a weekend trip the year after and I had a great time. Putting a bit of effort into budgeting was definitely worth it!

Interested in budgeting? Look at what you may have to consider for your budget as time goes by.




An aging budget

You need a plan to achieve your goals. A budget is part of your strategy to achieve your goals. Like it or not, whatever you want to do in your life you will need money at one point. The way you plan to allocate your money (or the lack of planning) tells a lot about you. Let’s consider what you need to consider for your budget at each stage of your life.


The student budget

Starting university or college is often the time when people feel the need to monitor their money. Generally, students have limited resources and struggle to make ends meet. They may not have a formal budget but they keep their focus on not spending too much. Limiting expenses is great but makes no sense if you don’t track where you spend. They would surely benefit from drawing a more structured budget especially if they don’t have money to waste. Realizing that you spend a lot on eating out can drive you into changing your habits and making plans to use your wallet more efficiently. This not only helps saving money but also helps managing your level of stress!

The single young worker budget

Did you feel overwhelmed when you received your first paycheck? Do you remember what you did with it? People who invest time in budgeting can end up richer compared to those who have a better income and splurge. The first salary doesn’t often give a lot of flexibility but budgeting is always the right strategy. You may feel jealous of people who party 3 times a week but you’ll feel luckier finishing paying off your student loan. You may choose to continue living with your family in order to save for a flat deposit or to build your own savings. At this stage, too few people really think about what they want to do with their money and what their life goals are. It is never too early to start thinking about money and to learn. It is also much easier to recover from a financial mistake early in life. Start educating yourself about investment and start building and managing an emergency fund, just in case.

The young people budget

Another big budgeting revolution. It was already hard to set a budget on your own but now that you have a partner you need to consider a few things. Avoiding the money question can be quite dangerous for your relationship.How do you split spending? Will you open a joint account? If you want to spend your life together, shouldn’t you start saving towards a home deposit? All these questions need to be addressed so you’re sure you’re both looking in the same direction.

The mid age budget

Thanks to your hard work, you may have a better salary compared to the beginning of your career. That’s great but you have more things to consider for your budget. What about retirement? How much do you think you will need and what type of lifestyle will you have? You may also have started a family. Now your budget needs to include more people and some of them are totally dependent on you. You may need to review your saving tactics and investment at this stage. It’s now crucial to do long term budgeting and consider saving for your child’s education while still making sure you still have enough cash available just in case something happens.

The later age budget

If you have been budgeting and planning thoroughly from a young age, you shouldn’t be in too much trouble. One big change to consider is the impact of healthcare costs on your budget. This is a big challenge and a serious thing to consider as you get older. How will you finance the healthcare costs when you become dependent? Make sure you can afford a decent life standard that you feel comfortable with.

This blog post simplifies things a lot but tries to raise important issues related to budget. Budgeting can seem daunting but by planning and forecasting actually gives you more control and the freedom to make the choices in your life. If you’re new to budgeting check this blog post to get you started!

Each Christmas has its budget


Christmas is almost around the corner and you may already have started shopping for the big day. Christmas and budget may not go well together in your mind if you’re not used to plan your spending but it is often a necessity. There is a balance to find between enjoying the festive season to its fullest and not overspending. You do not want to start the new year with an empty emergency fund or credit card debt!

Let’s look at how much people from different countries spend for Christmas.

Americans spend the most at Christmas

  1. Americans spent an average of $781 on Christmas gifts last year. The average spend peaked at $866 in 2007.*
  2. Europeans spend less on Christmas gift with an average of €252 in 2014. The most heavy spenders are the British with €408. French only budgeted €284 for gifts.*
  3. According to this article, each Australian over the age of 14 spent an average of $2500 in 2014.

Beware that these numbers are only for gifts and don’t include food, decoration or card spending. It’s also an average number, some people spend more and other less. The same budget can be viewed differently depending on the person’s personal situation. Spending $700 doesn’t mean the same when you have a very large family with children and grandchildren. Traditions differ depending on the country, while the US and the UK still send Christmas cards other European countries do not consider it as an obligation. As we said in this blog post, a budget is personal and reflects your goals and values.

Personal experiences of Christmas budgeting

We found this Reddit personal finance thread  interesting as it shows different views about Christmas spending. While some users say they spend nothing, one considers Christmas as an important event for networking and spends between $750 and $1000 each year. We learnt very useful tips with people saving a set amount each week to add to the Christmas fund or going to shop very early to grab the best deals. The amount spent on each gift seems reasonable, between $20 and $100. People sometimes set rules about the maximum price they offer each other with the most expensive amounts spent on children.

Planning and organization: the first keys of success

Now is a bit too late but if you spend a good portion of your income during the festive season, it makes sense to create a Christmas fund that you build up all year. It is also very important to get the info right, make a list of gift recipients with the maximum amount you want to spend for them. Try not to leave your shopping to the last minute and do some online research before heading to the store to get some ideas. Christmas shopping can be overwhelming and it is very easy to overspend and end up using your credit card.

Do you have any tip to make a successful Christmas budget? We will keep looking at useful info to give you to make this Christmas festive and budget friendly!

*These numbers originate from a study by www.statista.com

How not to blow your budget on Black Friday


It is this time of the year again! Black Friday is coming soon. This annual shopping event has been a hit in the US since around 2000 and has even spread to other countries. Some avid shoppers are waiting all year for the jaw dropping deals and queue from early in the morning to be the first to grab the best deals.

Some quick facts about Black Friday

Black Friday happens just after Thanksgiving and kicks off the holiday shopping season. It is the busiest shopping day of the year and retailers have been using this day as a promotional event to boost sales. Even if the amount spent slightly dropped, each American spent around $380.95 in 2014 on Black Friday and $737.95 on average for the shopping season (Source:National Retail Federation survey). This is only an average, some people spend much more and some people spend less.

Keep your head cold and beware of temptations

Black Friday does offer deals and can save you some dollars, but it is also very profitable for retailers who will shower you with enticing bargains. I am not a Black Friday expert but the best deals seem to involve many tech products such as televisions or tablets. And these deals are only available in limited quantities so you need to beat the queue (and sometimes a fellow shopper) to get what you want. Hum… My television is about 6 years old and I don’t feel the need to change it even for a discounted 3D screen. If your TV is very old and/or you want to watch movies in high quality everyday then you may think differently.

Know what you can afford to spend and plan, plan, plan

If you decide to join the Black Friday deal seeking adventure then the best advice to give is to make a budget for it. Look at your yearly/monthly budget and decide of an amount you can afford to spend. You can even make it a pleasant pre Black Friday activity. Check the Black Friday deals in advance and look at what was on offer the previous year (Tip: just google best Black Friday deal). Consider this as the excitement you feel before Christmas and involve your partner and children to participate.

Know your priorities

Make a list of 2 columns with items you need and those you may need. If your teenager needs a new laptop for uni then this is a good occasion to buy it. Take the chance to buy all the tech gifts you’ll give at Christmas. Reconsider the need to buy this action camera if your outdoor activity is limited to the beach and swimming pool in summer. Now you should know more or less what you will spend. Keep some cash for ONE impulsive buy you may find on the day.

Keep some cash for other deals

Also monitor other deals such as those available on Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday happens the first Monday after Thanksgiving and offers interesting online deals. Dealnews.com writes interesting posts about the best deals available on each bargain day and what type of products to focus on. It seems like Black Friday offers the best deal for video games while Cyber Monday is the time to look for toys deals. Doesn’t it feel even better to get great deals the smart way?

Also check our post about how to draw your first budget and remember to track your spending on the big day with Quick Money Recorder.


Are you being smart saving money?


Attitude towards saving money is not the same for everyone. Some people are extremely cautious and feel better with some cash at the bank while others don’t mind living from paycheck to paycheck. You can spot differences between countries, types of education or just personalities. This being said there is no good reason to justify NOT saving money. Life is beautiful but also unpredictable and whatever you decide to do, you will have to open your wallet at some point.

Saving money is good, knowing why is better

Saving money is not a goal in itself. You should know WHY you do it in order to stay motivated. If you have a saving goal then you won’t feel that bad when you sacrifice your morning coffee. Being frugal should lead to a better tomorrow and not mean living miserably everyday. So now how do you decide what you’re saving for? This depends ENTIRELY on you and your life goals. We can only recommend to put some money aside for future peace of mind. Better safe than sorry.

Know your priorities to build a money saving strategy

If you’re a student, you may want to pay off your student loan debt or buy a car. If you just got your first job, you may aspire to save for a deposit to buy a house. If you have small children, you are maybe thinking about building a money pot for their future studies. You still have the option not to save anything and to rely on borrowing. The problem is you never know how much it will cost you while you know how much your savings are worth.

It may be hard but there are a few things you should save for…

If you want to have some peace of mind, you should build an emergency fund to cover any unexpected life event or expense. Ideally, you should keep at least between 3 and 6 months of expenses to cover for any job loss or unseen spending. Of course, you may not spend as much if you lose your job and you may do some lifestyle adjustments but that’s a good guideline. You can also mitigate the risk by considering taking a medical insurance so you don’t get in debt if you get sick. The second thing yo should save for is retirement. It may be the least of your concerns if you’re a student but time goes fast. The general guideline is to save between 12 and 15% of your income each month when you start in your 20’s. You may not be able to save as much each month but the important thing is to spread the saving in the long term. Retirement money is also better invested in order to beat inflation.

The how much shall I save equation

Now there are other things in life you want to save for. Take a piece of paper and write down what you would like to achieve every ten year of your life. Do you want to buy a house or would you rather keep renting and use your savings to travel the world? Do you want to buy a car or are you satisfied with taking the bus or bicycle to work? You should also include your personal big dreams such as traveling or buy a vintage car. Now, give an estimate to how much your goals are worth and how long it is likely to take you to achieve them. For example, I want to travel to Thailand next year which is likely to cost $1000. I am planning to go in 9 months so I need to save around $115 each month. Saving is like drawing a budget it needs planning and the earlier you start, the easier it is!



How to draw your first budget


Today is the day when you take your first step on the personal finance and budgeting journey. You decided you would create your first budget. If you feel a bit lost we will try to guide you in this blog post.

Everyone needs a budget and it’s never too late to start

Whatever your situation is, student, active or retiree, you need to know what’s happening with your money. The only difference is that your financial goals may be totally different. You shouldn’t give up or avoid budgeting especially if you have to manage a debt or if you need to live on a budget. So the first thing to start with is to set a list of financial goals. What do you want to achieve with your money? Take a blank page and write a few realistic goals. If you’re a student, your goal may be not to overspend and to start building up some savings. If you just got your first job, you might be thinking about buying your first house. If you just had a baby, you can also want to start saving for your child’s education.

Make a list of your income and spending and categorize them

Unless you have tons of money or you’re a freelancer doing thousands of different jobs, the income part shouldn’t be too difficult. You know what comes to your bank account at the end of the month. You should categorize your income anyway especially if it comes from more than one source. For example, as a student you may have received a study grant or loan and your family is maybe helping you financially. And it’s likely you got some money from a summer or part time job.

The spending part may require a bit more work. Start with the basics: rent, food, utilities, medical, insurance, clothing, going out… You will need the help of your last bank statements to create categories. Try not to put too many things into miscellaneous!

Establish your first budget

You have expenses that you always have to deal with and for which you already know the amount. Budgeting for your rent, insurance and such won’t require any thinking but are big priorities. Then you have necessary spending that you can optimize such as food and groceries or transportation. What about starting using your bicycle to go to work? If you know how much you’re spending right now, you may want to save a few more dollars while not ending up only eating pasta at the end of the month. Finally you have all the expenses that fit your lifestyle. You may spend very little on clothing but a lot on traveling. And don’t forget to add an emergency fund and saving category. Life is unpredictable and you’d better be armed!

Now it’s up to you to set the amount you want to spend on each category. Once you have given yourself priorities, you will be able to optimize the less important spending categories. You will also need to track how much you spend and readjust each month. OK, it’s not the funniest thing in life but just think about it as sports: at first it’s difficult before becoming a habit and maybe even a need!




Tips about how to smartly spend and save on food


Everyone spends a good part of their budget on food unless you’re a yogi master who only needs a few berries and meditation each day. Of course, the money we spend on food heavily depends on our lifestyle and priorities. While a student will typically rely a lot on budget recipes such as pasta meals, health conscious eaters may splash a lot of dollars on vegan food.

Estimate how much money you need to spend on food while keeping a healthy diet.

The United States Department of Agriculture created a useful calculator to estimate how much money you should spend per week and per month to maintain a healthy diet. That’s a very smart way to start budgeting for your meals, find it here. It takes into account the number and age of people in your household and the website also provides other great tools such as a meal planner and shopping tools.

Like everything else in your budget, plan as much as possible your grocery spending.

We would recommend to keep a list of easy to make recipes that all the family like in your cupboard for the times when you don’t have much time or energy to cook. Try to save on basics that you will use often and that have a long shelf life such as rice or pasta using offers or coupons. We would advise to make a meal plan for the coming week before going to the supermarket. It shouldn’t take long and you will save time and energy during the week.

Avoid spending temptations by making lists.

Once you have established your meal plan, make a list of what you need to buy. Remember that marketers put a lot of efforts into making you extra spend! Try to keep the unnecessary spending to a minimum and avoid the fatty snacks section if you can. Beware of promotions, sometimes they’re not worth the money you spend. Focus on seasonal vegetables and products to eat healthy for less.

Some time ahead? Look at what’s left in the fridge and plan for the week ahead.

Instead of spending time on the sofa, watch your favorite Sunday TV show while cooking some meals you can freeze to eat later during the week. Scan your fridge for leftovers and find some clever recipes over the net to reuse them efficiently.

Cut down on take outs and expensive products.

Use what you cooked or leftovers instead of buying your lunch outside. If your daily lunch out costs you $6, then you will be able to cut the expense by half using food from home. If you decide to eat outside, make it worth a treat not an obligation. There are also all these small adds on such as buying your morning coffee from a famous chain. Don’t make it a habit but an occasional treat. Buy yourself a coffee press and you will be surprised by how much you will save. If you drink everyday, give yourself some days off and look at offers and coupons. Buy alcohol you really like so the moment and money are worth it.

These tips are worth following whatever your food requirements are. The main lesson being a good budgeter is a good everyday planner!

How to start your budget management journey (and how QMR will help you)

Author: Tax Credits https://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/

Author: Tax Credits https://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/

Have you ever thought at the end of the month: “Gosh, where did all my money go?” Don’t worry you’re not alone! We can’t count the number of friends who feel stressed after a warning call from their bank personal adviser. They often feel pressured by all the payday deals and other money spending temptations so it’s not rare they go way over budget. But how do you start taking action?

Knowledge is the key: understand where and how much you spend to make better use of your money

We remember our super organized grandma who used to collect and keep all the receipts. Not only that, she spent hours organizing them and writing down all she spent. She said it made her feel in control and that she knew how much money she could use on treating us. We love our grandma but thank God we now have technology as a financial ally!

Set goals to keep you on track on your budget mastering journey

We’re all victims of the demotivation phenomenon. It often strikes on New Year’s day or after the summer holidays when you think “I will take a gym membership” or “I am gonna start saving”. You keep it for a few weeks before the demotivation malediction strikes. You end up feeling bad about yourself and your life keeps being the same. So what is the secret of people who succeed? Simply, they set goals for themselves. It can be short, mid or long term goals, the only prerequisite is that you have a good reason for doing what you’re doing. Do you need to save for your next holidays, retirement or both? Then set your budget accordingly and do your best at self discipline. Deviating a bit from the road is fine, you just need to make sure you always go in the right direction.

Personal finance is for everyone and is not as bad as you think

You don’t have to leave personal finance and budget management to your partner or accountant. You can and you should do it too! Start tracking your money and after a few days or weeks, you will be able to organize your spending and spot regular transactions. If you get everything right bit by bit then you’ll find out that all these efforts at the beginning will be rewarded.

OK, where should I start with Quick Money Recorder?

Simple, just start entering what you spend. If you don’t have time filling up the details, then take a receipt picture with the camera function. Review them every two days and start refining your expense categories. Unless you totally change your lifestyle, they shouldn’t change too much. The goal here is to get used to include a money tracking habit in your schedule and to classify your spending.

Good luck for the beginning of your budget management journey! We’ll see in another post how to set your own budget.