3 budgeting shortcuts for peace of mind + win life coaching

3 budgeting shortcuts for peace of mind

Today’s guest post is from Mia Northrop. Mia is a coach and co-host of Life Admin Life Hacks, a podcast that helps you find more time, money, peace of mind and household harmony. With both of us working online I have had the pleasure to get to know Mia and she is focused, organised, and compassionate, someone I would highly recommend if you are looking for personal organisation or life admin coach. If you think this is something you need in your life, read to the end as Mia is offering one lucky reader the opportunity to win free coaching!

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Whether you’re juggling monthly expenses against your income or feel disconnected from your finances due to lack of time to dive deep, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or uneasy when it comes to your money. We all know we should be aware of our financial position and, regardless of whether we’re single or in a couple, actively participate by making informed decisions about what our budget is and where our money goes.

But this isn’t always the case. Depending on your level of organisation, motivation, familiarity with monetary concepts and how life admin tasks are shared in your household, you might hold your budget with a very loose grip or it might not be on your radar at all.

With awareness comes choice, and from choice comes action. Personally, I gasped when I got my head around my expenses and saw how much I spend on food across supermarkets, restaurants, takeaway and meal kits. That signalled that it was definitely time to delete certain home delivery apps from my phone…and to set up my budget to serve me better.

Automate how your income splits

Are you making a budget to give you confidence that you’re living within your financial means? Or are you saving for a particular item like a new home, an experience like a holiday, or an expense such as your kids’ education? It can be overwhelming to define specific goals, attach dollar figures to each and allocate timeframes to reach them. Instead, approach your budget by thinking about what percentage of your income you’d like to direct where. Scott Pape, author of personal finance bestseller The Barefoot Investor, recommends splitting your income into four buckets:

  • 60% Daily expenses
  • 20% Fire extinguisher – paying off debt or large one-off expenses
  • 10% Splurge – short term savings
  • 10% Smile – long term savings

The idea is to create separate bank accounts for each bucket and arrange for your income to be split and paid into them. In this way, you can be sure that your money is going towards both short term needs and long term objectives, without moving money around manually. This simple approach gives you clarity and an instant sense of control.

Let an app do the heavy lifting

Most spending is now digital rather than using cash, so it’s easier than ever to get a clear picture of what you’re earning and where it’s going. Budgeting apps import your data from bank accounts, debit and credit cards and loans, then sync with your institutions regularly to ensure the balances are always up to date. To get full transparency, use an app that can analyse your transaction history over the last year and automatically categorise the expenses. Apps like Pocketbook, MoneyBrilliant or YNAB (You Need A Budget) are ideal if you need to aggregate expenses from accounts with different providers, or try your bank’s online budget tracking tool if all your accounts are with them. (Note from Nic, after listening to Mia’s podcast where they discussed apps for budgeting we started using the free version of Pocketbook and have found it fantastic!)

Once the app has gathered all of your data, check the categorisations are accurate, then get ready for some hard truths or some surprising delights. Charts and tables make it easy to identify your biggest expense categories, like insurance or utility bills, and flag opportunities to shop around for better deals. Apps let you connect with your finances without having to commit major time to reviewing statements or configuring spreadsheets.

Reframe monitoring as intentional spending

Nobody wants to add to their mental load by fretting over every expenditure and tracking all their outgoings. Use the category limits and notifications on budgeting apps to alert you when you’re approaching your quota on a specific area, so you can spend mindfully. Rather than feeling restricted, reframe these spending limits as reinforcing your ultimate savings goals. Embrace being an intentional spender, knowing that your short term choices will serve your long term dreams.

Budgeting no longer has to involve pouring over old bill statements, setting up spreadsheets and collecting receipts. Make the most of the tech you have to hand – your beloved smartphone, the right app and online banking – to create a budget you can understand and stick to.

Mia Northrop is a coach and co-host of  Life Admin Life Hacks , a podcast that helps you find more time, money, peace of mind and household harmony.  Listen and follow on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you tune in. If you’d like practical nudges to help you get on top of your life admin and stay on track, subscribe to her Monthly Momentum newsletter or join fellow lifehackers on Facebook.

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Are you feeling overwhelmed by life admin? Are you rushing to pay for things last minute because you are yet to set up systems and automations? Are you overpaying for services because you haven’t recently checked the value for money you are receiving from your key utilities and insurance premiums? Or do you just feel like you need some guidance to get your personal organisation back on track?

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