A lot of people struggle with budgeting. Even if they do end up setting a strict budget for themselves, they find it difficult to stick to it. There may be a few reasons for that. Their income may be stretched too thin across their necessities. This means that any unexpected expense has the potential to throw the entire budget in disarray.
Some people find it difficult to avoid impulse purchases. They see something they like and they instantly want to buy it. That’s regardless of whether the purchase would upend their entire budget.
Making impulse purchases is now easier than ever before. People are constantly bombarded with ads for products that they might like on the internet. It’s not just physical products that are fighting for their attention. Even digital products like subscriptions and memberships have their allure and can even cost a pretty penny.
There is no shortage of information about how to manage a budget. You’ll even find budget planners that are meant to get you on track. However, this treasure trove of information is primarily useful to those who create and stick to a monthly budget.
There’s an argument to be made in favor of bi-weekly budgeting. This would involve taking stock of your income and expenses every two weeks as opposed to doing it once every month.
For many people, it’s not a question of preference. They may have bi-weekly paychecks coming in so they will need to budget everything accordingly. A year has 52 weeks which means that they’ll receive 26 paychecks throughout the entire year.
They will get two paychecks for most months and three paychecks in 2 months out of the year. Receiving a bi-weekly paycheck is different from simply getting paid twice a month. Those who get paid twice a month will only receive 24 paychecks in the entire year.
The benefits of a bi-weekly budget
Creating and sticking to a bi-weekly budget enables you to more effectively manage your money. It will also help you save more money in the long run that can be used to pay down debts.
Proponents of bi-weekly budgeting say that you should be creating your budget framework around a bi-weekly payment schedule, even if you’re not paid bi-weekly.
This helps teach financial discipline. The essential bills always need to be paid first. A certain percentage from the paycheck should also go into your savings account. View this responsibility with the same importance as that of rent and utilities.
It’s only once the essential expenses are out of the way can the budget then be expanded to include incidentals and other items. For example, it may include provisions for an emergency fund, savings for a holiday or big purchase, money for car or home repairs, etc.
A bi-weekly budget improves the check and balances that you keep on your spending habits. You get to review your performance after every two weeks. This enables you to better track if you’re staying within budget or if any adjustments need to be made.
How to build a bi-weekly or semi-monthly budget template
Bills always come first
When creating your bi-weekly budget or bill payment template, make sure to always put the bills first. The template should include all of the bills, the amounts due, and the due dates by which they have to be paid. Take extra care when adding in these details. You wouldn’t want to miss any bills as the late payment fees would only eat into your budget.
A great way to check and double-check this is to take a look at your bank statements for the last few months. Highlight all bill payments and compare them with the ones you’ve already added to the template.
Create a bill payment calendar
Now that you know what bills need to be paid, create a bill payment calendar. This is meant to organize when the bills are to be paid. It removes the guesswork and reduces the possibility of missing out on payments.
What the bill payment calendar does is also give you clarity. You’ll know at a glance which bills are to be paid from the first paycheck and which from the second.
Make a list of all expenses
With the bills out of the way, it’s now time to sort out the expenses. You’ll have quite a few. They may include groceries, gas, entertainment expenses, general spending money, and more. All of these need to be written down so that you can plan your spending accordingly.
This will give you a complete picture of what expenses can be made throughout the entire month while remaining under budget. If you’re able to save extra money during the month, it should be added to your savings account.
Why spend tracking matters
You’ll see whether the budget works or not
So you have sorted out your bi-weekly budgets. You know how much money will be coming in, what bills need to be paid, and the expenses that have to be met. How do you then find out if the budget that you’ve set for yourself is realistic?
This requires diligent spend tracking. By keeping track of every dollar spent while remaining within the confines of the budget will reveal whether or not the budget you’ve set for yourself is realistic.
Make any adjustments if required accordingly
It’s quite common to have underestimated your actual expenses. So by the end of the first two weeks, you may find yourself over budget. Unless you’ve been spending tracking, you won’t be able to make the precise adjustments necessary to ensure that your second paycheck gets you through to the end of the month.
Nothing works better than facing your financial truth. It’s only when you can see clearly where your money is going that you can feel more in control and figure out what you do to stretch every dollar.
It teaches you about your spending habits
You’ll be surprised by the level of insight that you can gain by simply tracking your spending. At the end of two weeks, you might figure out that you’ve been spending a lot more money on takeout than you should have.
Having this level of insight can be wonderful to balance your budget. You’ll be able to see the areas where cutbacks can be made. Finding new expenses to cut out every month can also help you meet your savings goal for a big purchase.
Get high returns on your savings
One of the reasons why you should follow a budget is to save a considerable chunk of your income. It’s good financial sense to then put that money to work for you. Even if you’re not actively looking to invest, you can still place the funds in a savings account and earn decent interest.
What most people don’t realize is that the rate of return offered by major conventional banks isn’t the best that they can get out there. Parking their funds in those accounts results in them losing money.
On the other hand, Aspiration offers one of the highest returns on savings. Aspiration is a neobank that offers cash management accounts, it’s a solution that provides the best of both a checking and savings account into one single account. Customers can get up to 1.00% APY on their savings.
They can also have the peace of mind that not a single dollar from their deposits will go to fund fossil fuel projects that harm the planet. Aspiration remains 100% committed to green money. It works with reforestation partners across the globe to help customers plant a tree with every purchase.
Open an account with Aspiration today to not only earn significant returns on your savings but also to help make the world a better place.