Just to be clear: despite the fact that I talk about money most of the time and called myself a money nerd, it’s not all sunshine when it comes to managing my own money. Like many of you, sometimes I still find myself struggling in this personal finance world because let’s be real, it can be overwhelming.
When I finally came to terms with adulthood (no more parents paying the bills or crunching the numbers for me), I knew it was time for me to buckle down and get serious about my personal finances. I started tracking my expenses, figuring out unnecessary expenses that had to go, controlling my impulse spending, balancing my spending and savings… It certainly took blood, sweat and tears. And very much determination.
Fast forward to today, I gave up on being overstressed about my money and I’m now really just being easygoing–in another word, lazy–with managing my finances particularly my budget. Is it a bad thing? Maybe. But it helps me to save shit loads of time. So, if you’re lazybones and have a do-less attitude like me, you may find this article favorable.
Establish a budgeting system that works for you.
Even the laziest approach to money management requires some effort up front, in this case, it’s setting up your system. Once you have a system in place, put everything on autopilot and it will save you your precious time down the road. I hate to say this, but there’s no one-size-fits-all system you can adopt. It might take trials and errors to find the one the works for you. But remember this one word: automation.
Related: Plan Before You Spend
Here’s what I do.
I have a main current account where my income goes into; a separate savings account and a dedicated account for my discretionary spending. While it might sound tedious to open so many bank accounts for your personal money and you are semi giving up to this approach thinking this is not for a lazy person like me?!, hold your thoughts buddy, because it has definitely made my life easier down the line.
First off, after my after-tax income hits my main account, I have all my rent and utility bills paid automatically and directly from this account.
I then auto-transfer a fixed amount of money into my savings account. This is for my emergency fund, home down payment as well as investment.
Lastly, I put a certain amount of money into another account which is dedicated to my discretionary expenses a.k.a. “play fund”. The amount of money for this account varies a little every month depending on my utilities. The rule for spending the money in this account is there is no rule. I can spend on absolutely anything because the money transferred to this account is really just for me to spend on things like groceries, eating out, movies, concerts, etc. But your girl is no big spender so normally by the end of each month, there is a little leftover money in this account which I save it passively as my vacation fund.
Great news for the lazy bum out there:
- Almost everything is on automation. You set up standing instruction or direct debit up front and you’re ready to roll. Did I mention you don’t have to worry about missing a payment anymore?
- Having internet banking allows you to track every spending. Also, I pay most of my discretionary expenses with my debit card so everything is tracked. No more pen and paper for recording everything. Hurrah!
- It saves you lots of hassle. Take fewer trips to bank and post office and be less worry that your impulse spending will blow your budget and eat up your savings, how about that?
Anyway, the system that works for me does not mean it’s the one that will work for you aforementioned. If you’re the type who prefer to track every single cent by putting them down on paper, Excel sheet or apps or the type who find it easier to use only one bank account for all income, savings and spending, by all means, go ahead with that. I, too, diligently track my expenses by using an app when I’m not in my lazy phase (yes, I do have “phases” on my PF journey just like when I’m on my diet, but no shame!).
After all, having a lazy approach to managing your money is better than having no action at all, right? 🙂
p.s: I have not included every expense in this post. You might want to add mortgage, debt, donation/money to parents etc depending on your situation. All these can be automated, too.