How can we save more?

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Most of us have tried to set and stick to a budget. For many, apps on our phones or spreadsheets on the computer help. But for many, these types of tools don’t work. They’re too techy, or too intrusive, or we just can’t keep up.

That’s where bullet journaling comes in. What is it? Bullet journaling is an organized system to help kickstart our to-do lists, stay on track with goals and – you guessed it – switch up our approach to keeping their personal finances in order.

Bullet journals can look like basic line writing, or you can add color and design elements to make it a little more personal. Whatever works, it’s important to make your journal appealing enough to stick with. Everyone is unique. Your journal should be customized to your liking to help you meet your goals.

Bullet journals are an all-in-one way to keep track of your expenses and reach your goals. It allows you to keep a record of:

  • Your goals
  • Your habits
  • Miscellaneous observations about money

Being able to actually see everything in writing and holding yourself accountable makes it much easier to keep track of how much you’re spending, what types of items you’re buying and how other factors (like your mood) could be affecting your money habits.

Bullet journaling can be used for anything from tracking sleep patterns to eating habits. Here are a few ways to bullet journal towards a better budget.

1. Plan for Upcoming Purchases or Trips

If you’ve been wanting to make a big purchase or splurge on an upcoming event, use your journal to keep track of how much you need to save.

Have you been dreaming about your next vacation? Find out the cost of flights, hotels, food, etc. and start putting aside money for that. Drawing a visual representation of what you’re saving for can help make your goals feel more tangible. Or, as you set money aside, have something in your journal that you can color in to visually show how much is saved.

2. Track your Monthly Expenses

According to a recent survey, only 14 percent of respondents used cash to pay for everyday purchases.1 While it’s clear we’re all moving towards a more cashless world, that can add an extra challenge when it comes to budgeting. Paying for purchases with a credit card, debit card or virtually (think Apple Pay or Google Pay) makes it way too easy to lose track of how much is being spent.

At the end of the month (or sooner), use your bullet journal to track your expenses. You can simply list out what the money was spent on and how much, or you could get creative and draw graphs symbolizing certain categories (like food, gas, eating out, entertainment, etc.).

Again, having a tool to visualize what you’re spending in comparison to what you’re saving can be an eye-opening way to reassess your budget.

3. Pair it With a Financial App

If you’re still interested in using a budget tracking app, you could always pair your bullet journal with an app like Mint or YNAB. Apps can be more useful in immediately alerting you to overspending, helping you budget in real-time. While journaling is still great for reflecting on your spending later down the line, or revisiting over and over again as needed, an app can help keep you more accountable upfront.

Bullet journaling is a simple way to get our finances in order, and it can make staying on track much easier. You can outline what needs to be done to accomplish your goals, which allows you remain a little more mindful. And being mindful about our decisions with money is where it all comes together.