With summer approaching, many people are motivated to get in-shape for the season. However, the next few months are also a great time to tone up your budget and financial plans. It’s important to get in the mindset that you’re doing this for a healthier you, both from a financial and physical standpoint. Just as you would avoid a “crash diet” or temporary fix, setting up long-term financial goals can help further your objective to an overall healthy lifestyle.
In order to get finances in tip-top shape, you have to come up with a plan and set goals. This helps you to be consistent, just like a routine at the gym would. Here are a few ways to get started on a financial fitness regimen:
Create a budget of what comes in and goes out every month. This will help you to visualize how much spending money you have leftover so you don’t overspend. Having a specific budget line for summer activities is key since it’s easy to get carried away with cookouts, brunches, or anything else that includes being outdoors. Find free outdoor events that can count towards the “entertainment” category in your budget, but can give your wallet a break at the same time.
Automate bill payments so you don’t forget to pay when traveling, since social schedules get busier in the summer. This will ensure you don’t miss any payments and can save you when trying to prioritize your spending. You can’t afford not to pay your rent or phone bill because you want to take a spur-of-the-moment trip. If you’re expecting the money to come out of your account, you have to work with the money left over after your fixed expenses are paid.
Use cash rather than swiping your credit or debit card. It’s easy to slide your card because you don’t really visualize the money leaving your hands. Using cash can help you to see how much you have left and how much you are spending.
Following a few guidelines will help to get you on track for a financially fit summer and lifestyle. It’s OK to have a “cheat day” every so often, you can’t deprive yourself of fun, just like you can’t deprive yourself of your favorite treat all the time. Allow yourself to enjoy your money in a responsible way, and also allow your budget a few indulgences. Just know that it’s the exception, not the rule for a financially fit lifestyle.