Count Your Chickens: 6 Simple Budgeting Tips to Reduce Financial Stress

In an economy that demands penny-pinching precision, refraining from counting your chickens before they’re hatched can be stressful.

The phrase warns against counting on something that isn’t a certainty, but in the world of budgeting, spending and saving is almost always predictable. Do count up those chickens – every bit of income and every expense – with the following stress-busting tips.

In the Black or In the Red?

The first step in building a solid budget is to become financially aware. Simply put, earning more than what is spent is ideal, while spending more than monthly earnings quickly adds to financial stress.

Calculate how much income is earned per month and then divide that by the average amount of money spent per month, including mortgage or rent, groceries, gas, and any extras. This is a great way to count up every dollar before trying to wrangle them into a line.

When in Doubt, Cut

Daily little expenses can creep in without warning. Is there a replacement for that five dollar cup of coffee every day? Sticking to the budget might feel even better than the guilt that comes with an expensive coffee. Be conscious of weak spots to make selective spending choices.

Keep Tabs

Out of sight and out of mind – budgets left at home are easily ignored. Instead, keep a running tab handy on good old-fashioned pen and paper, or free apps such as Mint or Toshl.  Include how much is allotted to each spending category and how much has already been spent. Before swiping the credit card, write items down to avoid a mountain of bills later.

Anticipate Surprises

Life is full of them, and one unexpected surprise – from a new baby to a hike in gas prices – can put a dent in even the most carefully planned budget. Add in a little padding to compensate for any surprises that could crop up and pile more stress onto an already fragile budget.

Budget for Fun!

Budgets that cut out all additional spending – such as going to the movies or out for dinner – are doomed to fail. Budgeting doesn’t have to be all worry; relax knowing that a little extra has been set aside for a night on the town. With ‘fun money’ ready and waiting, it will be much easier to commit to saving money for the essentials.

Start a Nest Egg

With the right budgeting, living paycheck-to-paycheck can change into lifelong financial wellness. Setting aside five dollars every month for savings might not seem like much, but as financial awareness improves, the savings budget can have room to grow (and someday hatch all those chickens you’ve counted up).

Keeping financially fit is not just about income; it’s about being conscious of spending habits before overwhelming debt stress starts affecting the home and work. With all those chickens lined up, creating and keeping a budget can reduce fiscal stress.

How do you keep up with #fiscal fitness? Tweet us @ACISpecBenefits to tell us #budgeting tips or stories.

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About ACI Specialty Benefits

ACI Specialty Benefits ranks in the nation’s Top-Ten providers of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), corporate wellness programs, student assistance, corporate concierge, and work/life services to corporations worldwide. ACI partners with clients to Perk Up employee engagement and performance with benefit programs that improve morale, productivity and the bottom-line. With a 95% customer retention rate and over 7 million lives covered. ACI remains a privately-owned specialty benefits corporation, headquartered in San Diego. For more information, visit www.acispecialtybenefits.com or call 800.932.0034.
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