Budgeting + Self-control = £ to achieve goals!
Sounds easy doesn't it? It is really, as long as your goals are set out properly, budgeting and self-control will make goals easier to achieve. Now I'm not talking about small goals like blogging every week, those only require organisation and self-control. I'm talking about big goals that require some expense such as buying new camera equipment, eating at a Michelin Starred restaurant, or going on holiday to the other side of the planet.
Expensive goals like those are easy to set but less easy to achieve if you don't have the money to pay for them. This year I will be accomplishing all three of those goals as I've budgeted and somehow displayed enough self-control not to blow all the money I've saved. I'm going to tell you how I've managed to do this and hopefully it will work for you. My budgeting method should seem very obvious to you, it is the self-control that is the hard part.
First you need to find out what your non-negotiable expenses are. These are expenses you must pay to live, ie, food, shelter, debts, car/transport to work/school. Take this amount away from whatever sum you take home very month; lets say you bring home £1000 after taxes each month and your non-negotiable expenses amount to £500 per month. This means you have £500remaining for everything else for the rest of the month. The choice you need to make next is how quickly you want to achieve your goals. This time frame will determine how much you need to save each month until you reach your goal. Lets say you are not in a rush to accomplish your target saving because the weather at your holiday destination is best later in the rear and the restaurant you want to go to is in that country, and the camera equipment is for that holiday.
This means there will be a heavy outlay later in the year, meaning you need to save a good chunk of that $500 per month to make sure you can afford it. Of course you might not have three big goals all happening at once which makes things easier for you. Lets say you have 10 months to save. You could save the full £500 per month and live like a monk for 10 months. Sure you would save £5000, but it would be a very difficult 10 months. It would mean 10 months without spending on other things other than on your non-negotiable expenses. No nights out, no self-gifting, no internet or phone as you don't NEED them to live (unless your job requires them of course).
The practical solution is to save less per month so you can enjoy yourself throughout those 10 months. The difficult part is to have the self-control to limit your enjoyment so you actually save and leave the savings alone. I save approximately 25% of my take home pay, so in our scenario that works out nicely at £250 per month and £2500 over 10 months. Hopefully that reaches your target savings so you can afford your goals. If your out by a small amount say £500, then you need to increase your monthly savings by £50 per month and find some where to not spend you money. A good idea/suggestion would be to go out for drinks one week less per month. Your savings and your health will thank you for it.
If you are massively short of your target savings you will need to show some super self-control and re-evaluate your goal achievement dates, perhaps push it back a year. This summer for me will be the result of five years of saving!