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You Don’t Need a Budget for 2024 — but You Should Do This

Two people sitting at their kitchen table with an open laptop, paperwork, and a calculator.

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At this time of the year, it’s common to start making a list of New Year’s resolutions. And some of yours may be financial in nature.

You may decide that you’d like to boost your savings account balance in 2024 and beef up your emergency fund. Or, you may decide that 2024 is the year you’ll finally wipe out your credit card debt for good.

You’ll often hear that sticking to a budget is a good way to stay on track with your financial goals. A budget can help you keep your spending in check, paving the way for added savings.

But let’s face it — budgeting isn’t for everyone. Although it’s not a particularly difficult thing to do, it can be a bit time-consuming. And setting up a budget for the first time is not exactly the most fun way to spend an evening.

The good news is that if you’re really against the idea of budgeting in 2024, you don’t have to do it. But there is one thing you should do in the near term to make your upcoming financial goals more attainable.

Make sure you’re not throwing your money away

It’s pretty common to sign up for different services only to forget that you’re paying for them month after month. After all, if a given bill is set to autopay, you may not remember you’re on the hook for it.

It’s important to do an expense audit every so often. And you should aim to do one before 2023 comes to an end.

Comb through your credit card and checking account statements and make a list of your various expenses. From there, see if there are any bills you’re paying that you have the potential to shed.

Perhaps you’re spending $15 a month for a certain streaming service. That’s fine if you watch that content regularly. But if it’s been months since you last accessed it, then it’s probably a bill you can dump. Doing so should make you $180 richer over 12 months.

Similarly, certain bills of yours might have gone up over the past year without you realizing it. Let’s say you signed up for a cable package costing $75 a month as a new customer promotion. It may be that your promo ran out on you a few months ago, and that cable package is now costing you $125. Even if you use that service, you may decide that it’s not worth the extra $50.

Don’t be in the dark

The purpose of having a budget is to know where your money is going month after month. If you don’t want to spend your time budgeting, don’t. But instead, audit your spending every so often to make sure you aren’t throwing your money away — especially if your savings are currently lacking.

An estimated 63% of Americans can’t cover an unplanned $500 expense, says SecureSave. If you’re paying $25 a month for a subscription you don’t get much value from, canceling it puts $300 into your bank account just like that. So while you don’t need to force yourself to budget, at least make sure you aren’t wasting money for no good reason.

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