Budgets are interesting things that take some time to get into the habit of working out properly. I’ve never really had a budget or thought too much about my spending habits. I just tried to always spend less than I earn and contribute the max I could to my 401K. But lately after working on this blog and talking with some friends, I’ve started to think that depositing my entire paycheck into my checking account is a bad idea, and I should not think of every dollar I earn as fair game to spend. I want to do the opposite and save everything I can and spend only what I must.
There are some things that I can probably control:
Cable, Internet, Netflix, Hulu
There are other things I probably can’t control:
Gas, Electric, Water, Utilities
While thinking through all this, I’ve been looking at personal finance apps such as Robinhood, Stash, and Acorns. They are all a lot of fun.
Each of them allow you to quickly move money from your checking account to their investment platforms for buying or selling securities. One of the features I like about Acorns and Stash is their ability to periodically look for “spare change” in my bank account so it can be saved or invested. I like this feature and have been playing with the frequency and amounts I’m comfortable with. So far I’m trying 10$-25$ a week split up among both Acorns and Stash.
For Robinhood I’m just going to quickly move funds to my Robinhood account when there’s a sale on a stock in my watchlist.
Acorns lets me pick a investment strategy and then it has a few different ETFs it will purchase for you. Stash offers a lot more options and many ETFs that one can choose from based on your likes, beliefs, or interests. They are also rolling out the ability to buy percentages of stocks in the near future. Both offer tools for hypothetical projections of wealth after X number of years savings.
They both seem to be excellent options for investing small bits of money over time. Right now I am checking all these apps frequently, however in the future I hope to forget about them, let them do their thing and then wake up rich in a few years!
In order to save more with these apps, I’ve paid off my car loan which gives me back a small chunk of change each month, and I’ve reduced my cell phone plan from unlimited data to 5 GB a month. Perhaps in the future I’ll limit some of the Hulu or Netflix and find cheaper web hosting options, but right now I think I’ve found a good balance.
I was able to take a look at the monthly expenses I’ve had and used some simple strategies to reduce my cell phone bill, as well as pay off my car so that money that I’m already used to spending can be used for savings and investments.
Disclaimer: I’ve put referral links in this article so we both benefit financially if you sign up for any of the above services. They are hyperlinked below of you missed them.
Robinhood, Stash, Acorns.