How To Start Living Frugally and Simply

Emergency Funds and Sinking Funds

Learn how to start a frugal lifestyle so you can add more value to your life.

If you are starting your journey to financial independence, then you should learn how to living frugally and simply.

And being simple and frugal entails saving money and managing your finances wisely. You have worked hard to earn your salary so it’s just fair to make sure you are getting the most out of your buck when you are spending it.

So how can you get the most out of your buck and live a frugal lifestyle?

It is simply through good planning and strategizing. And this is true in most areas of spending.

When you add perfect timing to your good planning and strategizing, you are confident that your money will be well spent.

In this post, you will learn some tips on how to live frugally and simply, by strategizing your spending so that you can save money.

If you've been wanting to start living frugally and simply, here are some tips that you can do.

Tips On How To Start Living Frugally

Be Aware of Sales Patterns

Knowing the sales patterns will save you money because it’s not what you buy but it’s when you buy it. Every clothing store follows a predictable sales pattern year after year.

So, if you are eyeing a couple of good pairs of shoes, you can start saving for it until the sale comes.

Grocery stores also cycle their sales every few weeks. So if you are doing a meal plan, knowing what the cycle will help you save money. If you want to save more on your grocery, check out 19 Incredible Ways to Save Money On Your Grocery Bill.

Get Notified of Sales

If you have a particular store that you go to, sign up for sale notifications. In this way, you won’t miss any of their sales.

The same thing when you have a particular vacation in mind, sign up for various travel blogs and consumer sites like Airfarewatchdog or Expedia.

Taking advantage of the internet can save you a good chunk of money on your purchases.

Be Aware of Opening Sales

Another tip on how to live frugally and simply is to be aware of opening sales in your area or online.

Whenever there is something new, there is always a sale going one. Whether it is a new item that is being promoted for the first time or a new thrift store opening or an entertainment center with a future opening date, you will be able to score a deal.

Plan to Shop on Certain Days

To make the most out of your buck, it is wise to wait for the time of the year when items are less expensive to make your purchases.

The most popular shopping day in the United States is Black Friday. During this time, items are discounted heavily, making it the most desirable time to shop.

You can leverage this by making your holiday lists in advance, plan your shopping strategy and hit the malls to find the best deals.

Buy in Bulk to Last Until Next Sale

If you have planned far enough ahead, you won’t have to make purchases out of desperation. This is where buying in bulk can save you money.

For example, if you figured out that toilet paper comes on sale every last week of the month, then you will buy enough to last you until the next month.

Or perhaps your local grocery store has a sale on chicken every two weeks, then you will purchase enough chicken to last you the whole two weeks.

By doing this, you will be able to once again wait for the next sale, instead of having to make an emergency purchase when the item is full price.

Furthermore, when it comes to buying, timing is everything. By altering your spending habits, you do not have to compromise on the things that you need to buy.

Cut Your Phone Bill In Half

Unlike the old days, it is now easier to save money on phone bills since there are quite a few carriers to choose from and the competition is high.

If you’ve been struggling with your expensive phone bill, here is a way to cut your phone bill in half.

Bonus Frugal Tips

Here are a few more examples of how to live frugally and simply by making the right timing work for you so that you can still save money.

Buying A Home

Buying a home should not be taken lightly because it is one of the most important and most expensive purchases that you will make in your lifetime.

When buying a home, the best bet is to keep your eyes on the economy. Do your research diligently. It is better to buy a home when the economy brings low home prices.

You also have to take note of the interest rates. Make sure to wait for the lowest interest rates possible. If owning a home is not a must right now, consider moving in with family for a short time.

Take the time to save up for your 10-20% downpayment and then take advantage of the lower prices when it is time to buy.

Buying A Car

When buying a vehicle, payoff dates and term limits are decided by using the year of purchase. Because of this, your payments will be lower if you buy your car at the end of the year as opposed to the beginning.

In some cases where dealers are hustling to meet their quota, consider timing your purchase on the last Friday of the month. Even better, go late in the day when dealers are open to doing anything to score a deal.

Use this in your favor to be able to purchase the car of your choice easily. Also, consider a used car so that you do not have to worry about the initial depreciation the moment you drive the car out of the dealership.

Shopping For Clothes

There are a few times of the year when it makes sense to buy as much as you can of you and your family’s clothing, if at all possible. Depending on where you live, there are several sales leading up to Christmas.

And if it is possible for you to wait until after the holidays, most stores hold outrageous clearance sales at the beginning of the new year.

January is a great time to pick up clothing for yourself and your children that will hopefully last until next year’s big sale.

Another great time for sales is at the end of each season. For example, if you are good at predicting your childrenís growth rate, wait until the end of summer to buy shorts and bathing suits for the next year.

Purchasing Plane Tickets

There is a fine art to purchasing airplane tickets at the best value. There are two things to consider, which is the timing of your purchase and the timing of your flight.

In general, you should try to book a flight for midweek, which is generally less expensive than weekend flights.

As far as purchasing the tickets, look far enough in advance that you can keep your eyes on the price changes. It is generally advised to book a flight between 6-8 weeks before you will fly.

Book too early or too late, and you may end up paying far more than when you hit the sweet spot. As far as time of day to book tickets, search for the same flight multiple times per day and record what you find.

Also, consider travel rewards points. I was able to travel with my husband to Europe and with my mom to Israel just by using travel rewards.

Buying Produce

To get the best price on produce, you just need a little bit of knowledge about your food. Buy fruits and vegetables that are local and in season. This means that not only will they be at their peak taste-wise, but you will get more for your money.

There you have it!

Those are some of the frugal tips on how to live frugally and simply.

When it comes to saving your hard-earned money and putting it to good news, it requires a good strategy and a well-thought-of plan. You can do a little research in order to be armed with the knowledge to execute and stick with the plan.

Now on to you, how are you living frugally and simply?

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Couponing To Be Debt-Free (Is It Possible?)

Is it Possible To Do Couponing To be Debt-free?

Is couponing really worth it when it comes to debt?—answered.

how to coupon to be debt free

You’ve probably landed here because you are on your debt-free journey and you are endlessly searching for additional ways to help you reach your destination faster. And you’re wondering if it is possible to do couponing to be debt-free?

I know because I have been there. When we started our debt-free journey, I searched high and low for ways on how to grow my income to have extra payments for our debts.

That’s when I stumbled upon couponing. Can you really use couponing to be debt-free?

Well, Tasia of The Frugal Farm Girl was able to pay off their debt through couponing.

Lauren Greutman of I am THAT Lady achieved debt freedom by incorporating couponing in her life. 

So then I guess it is possible. But before we dive into what couponing really is. Let’s first look at your ultimate goal on why you want to coupon.

Yes, you want to be debt-free. 

And for you to achieve your goal, you have to have action plans and you should have a great strategy in place. Since you are here, I hope you already have, but if not, check out 5 Best Tips on How To Pay Off Debt.

What Is Couponing

Basically, couponing is the use of coupons. Coupons are vouchers that give you a discount on goods and merchandise.

Here is a little bit of the history of couponing. It was first started in 1887, and Coca-Cola was the first coupon that was issued.

Apparently, it has been around for a while and more and more people are redeeming them.

Is Couponing Really Worth It

The most important benefit of couponing is the saving benefit. When you use coupons on your groceries, you are basically slashing your monthly budget on groceries into half.

Couponing also gives you a sense of accomplishment. When I started couponing, I always come out of the store smiling because I felt like I just made our hard-earned money worked harder for us.

Another benefit of couponing is it allows you to try branded products that you usually do not buy because it’s way out of your budget.

Furthermore, couponing allows you to stock up on supplies that you would normally use like paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, pantry supplies, laundry supplies and more.

And lastly, couponing allows you to be more helpful to others. You will be able to give back to the community by donating pantry supplies.

Types of Coupons

To get you started with couponing, you will first learn the types of coupons and where you can find them.

1) Newspaper Coupons. These coupons come as inserts usually in the Sunday newspapers. The most common coupons include P&G, Retail Me Not and Smartsource. These coupons contain manufacturer coupons, meaning coupons that are directly issued by the manufacturer.

2) Store Coupons. You can get these coupons in printable, digital or in paper form that you can find from the store’s weekly flyers.

3) Peelies. These coupons are directly on the product like a sticker that you can peel off to reveal the discount.

4) Blinkies. These coupons can be found in a little black box that is hanging on the shelves. The black box blinks a red light to get your attention.

5) Tearpads. This type of coupon can be found anywhere in the store where you can just tear off the coupon to use for a specific product at checkout.

6) Hangtags. These types of coupons can be found usually on products that have a ‘”neck”, where you can hang the tag on.

7) Catalinas. These coupons usually come with your receipt at the register. The coupon machine will print out a narrow receipt like coupon whenever you qualify for a particular promotion.

8) E-coupons/Loyalty Program. You can earn these coupons when you are a member of a store’s loyalty program. You earn points towards coupons whenever you make a purchase.

9) Printable Coupons. These are also manufacturer coupons and even store coupons that you can download and print from coupon sites.

10) Digital Coupons. These are found on the store app that you can download straight from your phone. A few examples include Target Cartwheel, Walgreens App, CVS App, and more.

11) Rebate Apps. The most popular rebate apps are Ibotta, Checkout51 and Fetch Rewards. The best thing about these apps is that you can only redeem after you make the purchase, meaning after you use all your coupons at check out, you can still save more by using the rebate apps after you made the purchase.

How Do Beginners Start Couponing

Here are some beginner’s steps on how to coupon.

Understand Your Coupon Goal

Couponing is not just getting discounts, it is getting the most discount during your purchase and to buy enough to last you until you get the most discount again.

Make Time

Couponing involves planning so you need to set aside time. Couponing can take time but the less distraction you have, the lesser time you need for planning.

Get Your Coupons

Start deciding where to get your coupon inserts. Dollar Tree has $1 Sunday newspapers or you can even get it for free from your friends, family, neighbors or at work.

Search the internet for coupon sites. Here is a list of legitimate coupon sites.

You can also start signing up for loyalty programs of your favorite stores and download their apps.

And don’t forget to download your rebate apps, Ibotta, Checkout51 and Fetch Rewards.

Organize Your Coupons

As you build up your coupons, it can get really messy if you do not have an organization plan in place. Grab a coupon organizer to keep your coupons organized and easily accessible.

Find Your Deals

Search deal finders like The Krazy Coupon Lady or Coupon Surfers. What I like about KCL is that they list down what coupons you need to get the most deal on a certain product.

Start Slow

When you start couponing, it can be addicting that you end up buying everything and anything you get a discount on. You have to note that couponing takes time and when you do not watch it, you can easily lose track of time and also end up blowing your budget.

Build Your Stock Pile

Make a list of the things you regularly use in your household and make a plan to stock up on each of them whenever you can get them for rock-bottom prices.

Don’t Be Wasteful

Although you can get items for free and almost free, don’t be wasteful. Buy only what you need and donate the ones that you don’t.

What Is The Trick To Couponing?

To get the most out of couponing, you have to learn how to make a list before you go to a store. Make a plan to stack up coupons so that you can get the most discount. For example, you can use a manufacturer coupon on top of a store coupon and then redeem it using rebate apps.

Can You Go To Jail For Couponing?

Yes, you can go to jail for committing coupon fraud! It is punishable by law and misusing coupons is the biggest form of coupon fraud. To get more information about coupon fraud, check out The Coupon Information Center.

Final Thoughts On Couponing To Be Debt Free

Although couponing can slash your grocery bill into half, it can be daunting to some because of the time it requires and the learning curve. However, the only thing you can do to find out if couponing is for you is to just go out and try it.

Some people can be extreme couponers and it works for them however, it is not for everyone. I, myself coupons but I am not an extreme couponer because of my busy schedule.

I do not have the time to clip paper coupons, however, I found that the digital coupons and the rebate apps from Ibotta, Checkout51 and Fetch Rewards help me the most. This method allows me to still be able to stack coupons together.

So to answer the burning question, “Is it possible to do couponing to be debt-free?”

Yes, it is possible, the money that you can save from couponing can add up and pay off your debts. However, you have to note that this requires planning and budgeting.

Have you done couponing to be debt-free before?

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Aspiring Financial Independence: 2019 First Year-End Update

Journey To Financial Independence Update

Now I understand why a lot of people say they will pursue FI (financial independence), but only a few actually become FI. 

No, it’s not that they suddenly decided that they do not want to be financially independent anymore, but rather it is because the journey to FI is hard and can be complicated.

It entails sacrifices.

Although we’re barely at the starting point of the path (actually not even on the starting line), we can already see why it is indeed a road less traveled. 

The road to Financial Independence is not a smooth path; it’s actually rough, very bumpy, and zigzagged. A lot of obstacles along the way.

As you may already know, earlier this year, my husband and I had a long talk and decided that we will pursue FI but still have fun along the way.

Actually, it was a cumulative series of discussions of “Should we need to take care of our finances?”, “Do we need to budget?” “Do we want to work until retirement?” and so on. 

And so we did, we created our financial plan and started working on it right away.

In order to better understand our stats, you can refer back to where we were earlier this year.

FINANCIAL STATS

So, in my previous post about our aspiring to FI journey, I laid out some action plans that we needed to do to stay on track. These are from the cumulative knowledge that we learned from listening to podcasts, reading blogs, reading forum and reading books.

Here are some of the things we did and where we’re at at the end of the year.

NET WORTH

Our net worth early this year was in the negative zone, and honestly, we did not even know what net worth means back then.

But now, we are obsessed with it. We track our net worth through Personal Capital. 

The app gives us a clear view of how we are doing financially, assets versus liability. Although the number fluctuates, it still motivates us to keep working on our goals.

At the end of the year, we were able to get in the positive zone. Basically, it means that our assets are a little bit more than our liabilities.

EMERGENCY FUND

Once we started budgeting and became aware of where our money is going, we were able to pinpoint the areas where we can cut down or even eliminate.

The process made us able to save our starter emergency fund quickly.

And oh boy! Having an emergency fund definitely eases anxiety and elicits peace of mind. 

401K

401K used to be something that we just put on the back burner before we started our pursuit of financial independence.

But now that we know more about it through our research and from the FI community, it became one of our priorities.

We were able to contribute up to the company’s match so as not to leave money on the table. We could have contributed more but because we have our #1 priority, which was to pay off credit card debts.

Also, we went ahead and look deeper into our investments inside our 401K and made some changes to minimize fees and also focused on low index funds.

HSA/FSA

One of our goals this year was to maximize tax-deferred accounts to lower our tax burden. Because we cannot max out our 401K yet, we looked into HSA and FSA. 

My employer offers FSA, and although it is not as good as HSA, I took advantage of it because of the medical expenses were incurring anyways.

My husband’s employer offers HSA, which he maxed out, and we’re planning to keep this long term of its great benefits.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of HSA, check out this post from the Mad Fientist.

CREDIT CARD DEBT

Earlier this year, we had a whopping $35,000 credit card debt! So after a lot of hard work and sacrifices, we were able to pay it all down to ZERO.

And it felt Uh-mazing!

It seemed impossible to think that we can do it in a year, but by breaking the big goal down into smaller doable goals, it became manageable. It was all hard work, but all worth it.

PERSONAL LOAN DEBT

Early this year, we took out a personal loan of $65,000 to pay off a rental investment that we have abroad. It is not a good investment, but it is helping my family. 

However, ever since I became financially aware, I developed a great distaste for interest rates on debts. Although the interest rates for the personal loan is decent, it is STILL an interest

So the moment we paid off the credit card debts and started receiving zero percent balance transfer offers, I went ahead and transferred the personal balance into our credit cards.

Of course, there is a fee, but the cost is way much cheaper than the total interest that I will be paying for the whole lifetime of the loan.

I know you might think me as crazy for putting myself again inside a credit-card-debt jail, but at the end of the day, it’s all about SAVING money.

TRAVEL ON A BUDGET

As I have mentioned before, our goal is to achieve FI while still having fun. It might make our journey slower and longer, but for us, TIME is something that we cannot recover. Things that we’re able to enjoy right now, we might not be able to enjoy ten or twenty years from now.

Therefore, we make it a point to travel and do the things we love. Our biggest trip this year was Kauai, Hawaii. And with our points and careful planning, we were able to enjoy Kauai for half the cost.

GOALS FOR the YEAR 2020

2019 was a rough year for us physically, financially, mentally, and emotionally due to our miscarriage, and we are SO ready for 2020. Here are our goals.

  • Fully Funded Emergency Fund
  • 50% Paid Off Credit Card Debt(Balanced Transferred From Personal Loan)
  • Increase 401K Contribution 
  • Individual Brokerage Account With Vanguard
  • Refinance Mortgage

There you have it!

Our first year in our journey to Financial Independence was not easy but as we see our progress( although very little), it gives us a feeling of achievement.

We made baby steps and planned to do more baby steps this year.

If you are have not started yet, it’s never too late. You can still live your life while preparing for your future.

Financial Independence journey Update

Is Swagbucks Legit? Or Another Scam You Need To Avoid

Discover if Swagbucks is even worth your time and effort.

I can’t blame you if you are wondering, “Is Swagbucks Legit?”. When I first encountered Swagbucks, I was very skeptical because there are a lot of scammers out there. Who knows it can be one of those.

However, Swagbucks piqued my curiosity. Although there are a lot of reviews out there, I have to try it out myself and see if it is worth my time.

So let’s dive in.

What is Swagbucks?

Swagbucks is a rewards program which allows you to earn reward points called “swags” or SB by completing specific tasks. You can redeem these SBs via gift cards from your favorite retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, Target, and more. You can even redeem via PayPal Cash.

Swagbucks headquarters is located in El Segundo, California. It is a subsidiary of the leading Internet and media company called Prodege, LLC.

Prodege, LLC which is also the parent company of Shop At Home, My Points and Inboxdollars was founded by Josef Gorowitz in LA back in 2005.

In addition to the multiple awards received in the past, Prodege has just received their most recent recognition as part of the “2019 100 Best Places to Work in LA”.

Is Swagbucks Legit?

I can’t blame you if you are skeptical and keep wondering if Swagbucks is legit. I was too, and we all should be. We should all be skeptical over things that we just encountered the first time. It is one way of protecting ourselves from scams.

There are two things to pay attention to when researching the legitimacy of a particular service or product. First is all about reviews. Checking out the experiences of others who tried the product or service will give you an idea if a product or service is worth trying.

The second one is the Better Business Bureau Rating. Better Business Bureau’s mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust. The number of complaints from the public determines the rating, which is A+(highest) and F(lowest). Therefore, the lesser the allegations, the better the score.

In the case of Swagbucks, Trustpilot has given them 4 out of 5 stars from 13,716 reviews. Also, Swagbucks’ parent company, Prodege, LLC was able to secure a B+ rating from the BBB.

So, “Is Swagbucks a scam?” No, Swagbucks is legit.

Who is Swagbucks For?

Although Swagbucks is a legit way to earn extra cash, it is not for everyone. To make your Swagbucks adventure a success, you need to put in time and patience.

Pros and Cons of Swagbucks

Pros

  • Legit and Safe
  • Trusted by Thousands
  • Free To Sign Up
  • Lots of Earning opportunities
  • PayPal Cash
  • Giftcards from Big Retail Brands
  • Fast Payout

Cons

  • You need 300 Swagbucks to redeem the lowest reward available.
  • Only available in most countries of America, Europe, Asia and some part of Africa
  • It requires time and patience.

How To Sign Up For Swagbucks?

1) SIGN UP

Enter your email address, password, and answer a security question. I recommend using a separate email so that you won’t miss out on earning potentials that are emailed to you.

2) CONFIRM YOUR EMAIL

Check your inbox and confirm. If you cannot find the email in your inbox, check the spam folder and whitelist it so that you won’t miss out on the emails.

3) COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE

You can add your full name, language preference, and edit your swag name. You also fill in your age, demographics, and interest to help Swagbucks match you with the right paid surveys.

4) START EARNING SB

After signing up, there is no waiting period; you can start earning right away.

Ways To Earn Money WIth Swagbucks?

1) USE THE SEARCH ENGINE

You can earn SB just by using the Swagbucks search engine. It functions as a Google search, and the results are pretty decent. To make it easier, you can also install the Swagbucks Search Chrome extension.

2) ANSWER SURVEYS

Answering surveys can be profitable with Swagbucks. You will receive paid surveys that align with your age, demographics, and interests. Each survey comes with the corresponding time to spend and the SB that you will earn.

If you like answering surveys and sharing your honest opinion, you might be interested in Survey Junkie.

3) PLAY GAMES

If you like playing games, then Swagbucks is one of the easiest and fastest ways to earn cash while having fun. Swagbucks has several free games that you can try.

4) SHOP

If you are one of those who enjoy shopping online, you might want to try buying through Swagbucks shop. Swagbucks rewards you with SB every time you shop through their portal.

5) WATCH VIDEOS

You can earn SB just by watching videos on Swagbucks. However, it can get boring sometimes because the playlist tends to be long, 15 to 30 videos. So typically, what I will do is just let it play on my other device while I do other stuff.

6) ANSWER DAILY POLL

Swagbucks lets you earn SB when you participate in a poll. You will simply answer the question for the day, and you receive your SB.

7) DISCOVER OFFERS

Earn SB by completing offers like signing up for a free trial, donating to a charity, downloading an app, printing coupons, and more.

8) REFER FRIENDS

Now that you’ve found out that Swagbucks is legit, you can start sharing it with your friends. And by doing that, you can also earn SB.

9) BUY GIFT CARDS

When you shop online, one of the ways to save money is to stack discount codes. You can even save more if you use a gift card to pay for your purchase. On top of that, you will also earn SB for the gift card that you bought.

How To Redeem?

Earning SB is easy and fast if you follow all the ways to earn and take advantage of every opportunity. Redeeming your SBs is even easier because once you hit 300 SB, you can already redeem it for a $3 Amazon gift card, which is the lowest redeemable card.

Earn some more, and you open up some more gift cards from big retail brands like Walmart, Target, Old Navy, Best Buy, and more.

If you don’t want a gift card and prefers cash instead, hustle your way to 25,000 SB where you can redeem $25 Paypal cash.

Last Thing You Need To Know About Swagbucks

You can take your earning potential to the next level by downloading the app and installing the button.

Swagbucks App

The Swagbucks app is available on any Apple or Android devices. When you have the app, you will be able to earn SB wherever you are by answering the daily poll, shopping, watching videos, and more.

Swagbucks Button

The Swagbucks button is a Google Chrome extension that helps you find deals when you are shopping online. It alerts you for coupons and cashback opportunities.

Swagbucks Alternatives

If for some odd reason, you don’t like Swagbucks, here are some alternatives.

Rakuten

Rakuten, formerly Ebates, lets you earn cash backs on your purchases when you shop online through their portal. I was able to make $520+ just by using Rakuten.

Inbox Dollars

Inbox Dollars share the same parent company with Swagbucks. You can also earn cash just by answering surveys, watching videos, playing games, and more. Some features that set it apart from Swagbucks includes making money by reading emails, and the redemption threshold is higher, which is $30.

Survey Junkie

Survey Junkie is more focused on earning points by answering surveys. The best thing about Survey Junkie is that you can still earn points even though you did not qualify for the survey. The redemption threshold is very low, which is only $10.

Check out more sites like Swagbucks here.

My Two Cents

Earning cash online can be fast and easy if you are willing to put in time, effort, and patience. Yes, you cannot get rich by doing this, but it can definitely add up and help you reach some of your financial goals.

It can help you purchase a gift without messing up your monthly budget or pay for a monthly ink subscription, or save for a big purchase. A little bit can go a long way if done right.

Now What?

Now that your question, “Is Swagbucks Legit?”, is answered, go check it out. If you think you can make time for it, you’ve got nothing to lose.

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Simplifying Dave Ramsey Zero Based Budget (So You Can Quickly Master Your Budget)

Simplifying Dave Ramsey Zero Based Budget

Learn how this budgeting strategy can change your life.

If you’ve been googling about finances, I am sure you already came across the Dave Ramsey zero-based budget.

I first learned about zero-based budgeting when I read this amazing book, which has changed my outlook on finances. The lessons I’ve learned from this book, Dave Ramsey’s budget spreadsheet, made us more in tune with our money.

So after reading the book, I used the Dave Ramsey budget worksheet as a guide and started budgeting using the zero-based budget. Given that I was a beginner back then, it worked pretty well with our family finances. It helped us with our debt payoff journey.

Until now, it is still the method that I am using, with some little tweaks here and there.

So today, you will learn everything that you need about this budgeting method; what is it all about and how you can start using it. So, Let’s dive in.

If you are curious about Dave Ramsey zero-based budget, here are thing that you need to know.

WHAT IS THE DAVE RAMSEY ZERO-BASED BUDGET


The Dave Ramsey zero-based budget is simply income minus expenses equals zero. The idea behind this concept means that all of the money that you receive from month to month should be accounted for and has a purpose.

For example, if you make $3000 a month, then all of that amount should be spread appropriately among your monthly expenses.

However, if, for some reason, after you allocated all the appropriate amount to all of your budgeting categories, you end up with $200 extra, you then jump with excitement and head to the mall.

Uhm, NO.

You will then go back to your financial goals and check your number one priority. If for example, you want to get out of debt, then use that extra $200 to pay down your debt.

The same is true when your primary goal to increase your safety net, you will add the $200 to your emergency fund.

So you see that in the Dave Ramsey zero-based budget, not a single dollar will be “wasted.”

Pro-Tip

My favorite way to keep track of our finances is by using Personal Capital. With Personal Capital, I can visualize our spending and savings, get insights into our cash flow, see the transactions we’re making, analyze our net worth, and more.

It is an absolutely FREE tool to use, and if you sign up through our link, you and I will get $20 each!

WHY IS THE ZERO-BASED BUDGET THE BEST METHOD

The zero-based budget is the best method because:

1) Beginner Friendly

If you are new to budgeting, then this is the best method for you. This method allows you to get to know your finances and your financial habits. When I was new to budgeting, I started with this method, and I’m so glad I did.

2) Every Dollar Has A Purpose

When you use a zero-based budget, you will be confident that no dollar will go astray. Each dollar will have a job, and you know exactly where it will go. Nothing is worse than having money, and suddenly you don’t know where you spent it on.

3) Helps You Reach Your Financial Goals Sooner

When we started using the Dave Ramsey zero-based budget, we usually ended up in the negatives. And it was frustrating at times.

However, as we got into the groove of managing our expenses better, we started seeing leftover money on our monthly budget.

And since our primary goal is to pay off our debts, we dumped it all into debt. As a result, we were able to stay ahead in our debt payment plan.

4) Makes You Justify Your Expenses

As you start allocating appropriate amounts to your budget category, you will be thinking and justifying every amount that you put into it.

For example, do you really need $500 on dining out expenses? Or could you increase your utility bill payment this month because you will have family visiting for a week?

Or maybe increase fun money this month since kids are out of school for the summer? Or maybe no need for a gym fund this summer since you can run outside?

5) Keeps Your Expenses In Check

This goes hand in hand with justifying your expenses. When you have a zero-based budget, you will be more aware of your spending habits.

By knowing how much you have in a certain expense category, you can’t help but think twice whenever you make a purchase.

6) You’ve Got Total Control Of Your Budget

With zero-based budgeting, you’ve got total control over your budget. You have the flexibility to move each dollar around depending on your situation at that time. Therefore, setting up a realistic budget.

At some point, your life will change and so is your finances so if you need to make a change on your budget, you can.

Here are the things you need to know about the Dave Ramsey zero-based budgeting method.

How To Set Up A Zero Based Budget

Starting a zero-based budget is simple; however, you need to make time. You need to make time to set it up and stay on top of it every month. Here are some budgeting tips on how you can set up a zero-based budget. These are also part of the Dave Ramsey budget form from the book.

1) Track And Add All Your Income

Your monthly income includes all income sources that you receive every month. This can be your salary, side hustle income, dividend, investment income, etc. Take the total, and that will be your monthly income.

But what if you have an irregular income?

When you have an irregular income, take the lowest income month that you’ve had, and use that amount for your budget.

2) List Down Your Expenses

To make it easier, gather all your bank statements, including a credit card statement from the previous month, and list down all the expenses that you’ve had.

If you were using cash, try to brainstorm on the things that you have purchased.

3) Assign Appropriate Budget Amount On Each Expense Category

Add up all the amount that you’ve spent on a certain category and make that your budget amount.

For example, if you spent $489 on groceries last month, then you will assign a $500 budget for groceries. I usually round the number for ease of calculations.

4) Add Up All Expenses

After assigning all budget amounts to each expense category, add them all up, and that will be your total monthly expenses.

5) Subtract Your Expenses From Income

Income-Expense=Zero

The concept of a zero-based budget is to actually have zero after you deduct all your total expenses from your total income.

However, it does not always happen that way. There are other two results from this equation.

Either you will end up with extra money, or you’ll end up with a negative result.

Negative Difference

A negative difference is a result when your expenses are higher than your income. Simply put, you are living beyond your means. You are spending more than what you are actually making.

When this happens, go back to your expenses and re-evaluate. Trim down or eliminate unnecessary expenses.

Maybe, you do not need to spend $500 on dining out, maybe your grocery budget is too high, or you don’t need those extra channels on your cable, or don’t need a cable at all.

You might think it’s impossible to reduce your expenses, but as you go through each of them, you will find that there are a lot of areas where you are overspending.

Saving Money Tip

If you are interested in lowering your bills but don’t have the time and confidence to negotiate with bill companies, you can use a service like Billcutterz to do it for you.

You only pay them a minimal amount if they were able to save you money. If not then it’s FREE.

Positive Difference

On the other hand, a positive difference is when your income is higher than your expenses. You actually have leftover money after accounting for all expenses.

And as I have mentioned earlier, you do not drop everything and go to the mall immediately just because you found out you have extra money.

Instead, you will use the leftover money to take care of your primary financial goal, be it paying off debt or funding your emergency fund.

6) Track Your Expenses

Now that you have your spending plan in place, the only thing that is left to do now is to track your expenses.

You can use the plain old’ paper, or cash envelope system, or if you are into technology, use budgeting apps.

No matter what you choose, just stay consistent in tracking your expenses. Tracking plays an important role in the success of your budget.

Pro-Tip

My favorite way to keep track of our finances is by using Personal Capital. With Personal Capital, I can visualize our spending and savings, get insights into our cash flow, see the transactions we’re making, analyze our net worth, and more.

It is an absolutely FREE tool to use, and if you sign up through our link, you and I will get $20 each!

Zero Based Budget App

I used to do plain old paper budgeting and the cash envelope budget system in my early budgeting days. However, I found that it’s more convenient to use budgeting apps.

Don’t get me wrong, the paper-based and cash envelope budget system is awesome, and they absolutely work.

It’s just that as time went by and I got more comfortable with our budgeting, I needed something techier.

You see, I do everything on my phone, like EVERYTHING. If something happens to my phone (knock on wood!), I will TOTALLY be lost.

Everydollar

Besides the Personal Capital app, Everydollar is the zero-based budgeting app that I still use nowadays. I am still on the FREE version, and it still works for our budget.

I like it because I can just plug in our expenses as I go. I don’t have to worry about losing the receipt or forgetting to track.

The free Everydollar app also lets you customize your budget each and every month, which helps a lot because our budget changes every single month.

There are a lot of budgeting apps out there, but Everydollar is what I found that works with our family finances.

FAQ

What does it mean to have a zero-based budget?

When you have a zero-based budget, it means that the difference between your income and expenses is “zero,” no more, no less. In other words, your take-home pay is equal to your expenses. If not, then you have to make adjustments.

Why is zero-based budgeting the best method?

The zero-based budget is the best method because you are giving every dollar that’s coming in a job to do. It will motivate you to make sure your expenses match your income every single month.

Does Dave Ramsey have a budget app?

Yes, Dave Ramsey does have a budget app. It is called the EveryDollar app, and it is FREE. If you want more functionality, you can upgrade to the paid plan, which is called Ramsey+

Final Thoughts On The Dave Ramsey Zero-Based Budget

Starting a budget is easy, but the hardest part is making it work and sticking to it.

However, if you keep your focus on your financial plan, you’ll eventually reach your money goals. You’ve got this!

Are you using Dave Ramsey zero-based budget method?

Dave Ramsey Related Articles:

If you want a simplified explanation of the Dave Ramsey zero based budget, this post is for you.

Simplifying Dave Ramsey Zero Based Budget