My overarching goal for 2017 is to invest more aggressively for retirement, which for me right now, is now about 10 years away. Eek! I want, er, need, to ramp up my savings. In order to do that, I need to spend less.
And let’s be honest, spending less doesn’t always come naturally. So, I spent a little bit of quality time with Reports in my budget for inspiration. First, I looked at the Income vs. Expense Report to see if I was earning more than I was spending each month. I was. Good news! Then, I went through the spending reports three different ways to see where I could free up some extra money:
Determine Baseline Expenses
To determine my baseline expenses I selected each category that I knew was absolutely non-negotiable. When I was done, YNAB showed me the total and I knew that’s the money that wasn’t available for investing.
Determine Optional Expenses
Then I went through again and selected all the optional categories. That was money that, theoretically, was on the table for investing.
Finding The Wiggle Room
Then I selected categories where I thought there was the most flexibility. I used the spending reports to tell me which areas in the budget were the most expensive. Turns out, I spend a lot on groceries and eating out. I know I can do better there if I really pay attention. I took it one step further and set some goals for those categories to help keep me on track.
I also noticed a few categories that were higher than I wanted them to be, namely, my phone bill and my car insurance. I spent a couple hours researching and shopping the rates, and as a result, I shaved $60/month off of those two categories. Time well-spent!
I know that my success will be largely due to increased awareness over time. I went ahead and created goals for categories throughout my budget, because I know it will help make it more tangible and hard to ignore. I really do want to stay on track and I know the added accountability of setting a goal will help. I also created a category specifically for investing where I can budget any money that I shaved off the other categories and (hopefully) be even more motivated watching that balance grow!
Every dollar helps. They all add up. I’m counting on it!