“When you’re young and single, this is the time that you typically have the most flexibility with your budget. Use this as an opportunity to set good budgeting habits that will carry you through the rest of your financial life,” said Rachael Burns, a certified financial planner and founder of True Worth Financial Planning in Folsom, California.
As you’re starting in your career and divvying up your first paychecks, you can set a budgeting foundation that you can follow for decades — and that you can continue to use when your life gets more complicated.
“Consider grouping your expenses into two categories — fixed expenses and flex expenses,” said Natalie Taylor, a certified financial planner in Santa Barbara, California. “Fixed expenses are those that are the same (or about the same) every month and can be put on autopay — everything from your mortgage to your music subscriptions. These are expenses that you’ve already committed to, and tracking them daily won’t really make an impact on your budget. Flex expenses include all of your daily spending — restaurants, gas, clothing, home supplies, personal care, etc. Flex expenses happen whenever you hand over cash, swipe a card or click ‘purchase’ online. These are the expenses that you have the most influence over, so this is the spot to focus on if you’re trying to manage spending.”
You can still benefit from budgeting without having to go into too much granular detail when tracking how you spend your money.
“Keep your budgeting categories broad to make tracking easier to stick with long-term,” Taylor said. “For example, instead of having separate categories for restaurants, groceries, fast food and coffee, use a single category for food to capture all of those expenses. By having fewer categories, you’ll not only be able to categorize all of your spending more quickly, but you’ll have more flexibility within each category to spend where you’d like.”
Check Out: 5 Financial Issues Only Women Face