COVID-19 continues to impact people’s lives and wallets. We’re here to help.
Get $200 toward an emergency fund when you open a SoFi Money® cash management account. Here's how.

9 Steps To Better Budgeting

January 25, 2019 · 4 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

9 Steps To Better Budgeting

When it comes to creating or improving upon a budget for yourself, your family and your household, the last thing you want to do is keep it all in your head.

That’s not a negative comment on your cognitive skills or intelligence; it’s just that when you write it all down and can see it with a bird’s eye view, you can get a deeper understanding of where your money is going, or where it could be going.

Many people would be surprised to see how they might be bleeding money by a thousand cuts: ATM and other banking fees, subscriptions they had forgotten about, restaurants, gasoline, that daily cup of joe (or three) at the coffee shop, cranking up the air conditioner or the heat, one streaming service too many, or more mani-pedis than are really needed. If you look closer, you could find even more cracks in your budget.

Here are nine steps to take that can help you to budget money better and get your budget in top shape, which could lead to more stability and excess money to use for your future.

Counting Only Your After-Tax Income

If you include your gross salary, you’re not doing your budget any favors. You can only work with the money that’s left over after your taxes are deducted; that’s called your net income. The money that was taxed goes directly to Uncle Sam. If you think you may be getting a tax refund or a bonus at work, wait until you actually get them before including them in your budget.

Recording What You Spend — to the Penny

The more accurate you can make your budget, the more you can understand how it’s helping or hurting you. Mortgage, rent, utilities, insurance, groceries, credit cards, loans, gas, and Internet are just a few of the facts of life.

Don’t round off to the nearest dollar; if pennies are involved in the charges, be sure to include them. The goal is to have more money coming in then what is going out every month. Once you have this figured out in dollars, you can start planning from there.

Track spending for all your accounts—all in one place.


Setting Goals

Instant gratification (buying that coffee or that restaurant meal) is nowhere near as satisfying as setting a long-term goal and saving for it. A special trip, a down payment on a car or a house, or even just building a nest egg can be done with better budgeting.

Try opening one account specifically for that one goal, and put what you can into it week to week or paycheck to paycheck — or whenever you can. You’ll likely become even more motivated when you see that account grow as you grow closer to your goal.

Getting Granular and Detail-Oriented

Your cash can jump out of your hands in ways that you often don’t even realize. ATM fees, tips, a quick Uber ride, buying a buddy a coffee, or a bag of peanuts at the convenience store can start to add up. Be sure to save receipts and include these spends on your budget chart. To help keep track of your spending, get started with SoFi Relay. SoFi Relay tracks all of your money, all in one place.

In essence, write down everything you spend, and try to record them as they happen, or at least on the same day. This way, the receipts won’t pile up as much and make you feel reluctant to continue on. Becoming conscious of these little costs during the course of your day can help you start thinking about getting more budget-conscious and thrifty, and on your way to budget better.

Saving for the Inevitable

Christmas comes at the same time every year. So do birthdays. And Valentine’s Day. Figure out what you may be spending for those events that always seem to creep up on you without warning, and make an attempt to save a little each week toward those goals.

Trimming the Fat

Once you start getting a better idea of how your existing budget is, you can start getting creative with where you can cut the unnecessary costs.

It could be as simple as eliminating a premium cable or Internet subscription, or keeping the a/c at a slightly higher temp. It sounds painful, but once you start cutting, it may actually feel good, and you may get tempted to keep going.

Paying Yourself First

You always want to have enough money in your budget to cover your most important expenses (rent/mortgage, health insurance, utilities), but consider getting into the habit of putting a percentage of your earnings into your savings. If you do this first, you may not come up short when it comes time to dip into an emergency fund.

Being Consistent

Get into the habit of paying attention to your better budgeting every single day. Do everything in your power not to trail off. It’s so easy to skip one month of your budget due to being especially busy or simply just life happening in general.

Skipping one month can lead to skipping a number of months, and then your better budgeting can become just a hazy memory in your rear-view mirror. Reaching your financial goals can be much easier when you have a plan and stick to it.

Getting Budgeting Help

Better budgeting is certainly not rocket science — spend less than you make — but many of us could use some help when it comes to money. Sometimes, the ultimate help is being able to step back and take a comprehensive view of where you stand.

One way to keep your better budgeting on track is with a SoFi Money® cash management account. It offers a great way to spend, save, and earn all in one product.

SoFi Money has no account fees. Plus, with your SoFi Money cash management account you’ll be able to see, on a weekly basis, what your spending looks like.

Plus, withdrawing cash is fee-free at 55,000+ ATMs worldwide (fee structure is subject to change at any time).

Whether it be saving or investing, SoFi can help you get on track and reach for your financial independence. More than half a million members have already used SoFi to get their financial house in order and their futures more secure.

Try SoFi Money today to help keep track of your spending & budgeting.



External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank.

SOMN18117

The following describes the terms that apply to participation in the SoFi Money account funding offer (“Offer”) offered by SoFi Securities LLC (“SoFi”). To receive the bonus offer, participants must first apply and successfully open a SoFi Money cash management account. To receive the promotional balance, deposit(s) of $100 or more must be made in the new account by the new SoFi Money member; additionally, the $100 minimum balance needs to stay in the new member’s account for 90 days in order for the new member to qualify for a $125 bonus. Within 3 business days of such a deposit, qualifying participants will receive a $125 deposit into their SoFi Money account. This offer is limited to one per account. This is a limited time offer that will expire on 8/14/2020 at 5pm ET. SoFi reserves the right to expire the offer at any time. The deposit of $100 or more must be made into the new account prior to offer expiry. Participants must comply with the SoFi Money terms of use. Any fraudulent or returned funding will result in disqualification. Bonus amounts of $600 or greater in a single calendar year may be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as miscellaneous income to the recipient on Form 1099-MISC in the year received by applicable law. Recipient is responsible for any applicable federal, state or local taxes associated with receiving the bonus offer, consult your tax advisor to determine applicable tax consequences. SoFi reserves the right to change or terminate the offer at any time or without notice. The following describes the terms that apply to participation in the SoFi Money direct deposit promotional program (“Program”) offered by SoFi Securities LLC (“SoFi”). Eligible Participants: All new and existing SoFi Members without a prior history of Direct Deposit transactions (“Direct Deposit”) to their SoFi Money account are eligible for the Program. Enrollment period: Enrollment in the Program will be available from 8/4/2020 12:01AM ET to 9/30/2020 12:00PM ET. New SoFi Money members who open their account within the enrollment period are automatically enrolled in the Program with the account open date acting as the effective enrollment date. Existing members without a prior history of Direct Deposit transactions (“Direct Deposit”) are automatically enrolled in the Program at the start of the enrollment period. Promotion Period: Enrolled members have until 11/30/20 at 12:00AM EST in order to qualify for the bonus. Bonus Terms: In order to qualify for the bonus an enrolled member must have $500 or more in total qualifying Direct Deposit transactions within the promotion period. Qualifying Direct Deposits must be made from the enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion. SoFi will credit members who meet the qualification criteria stated above with a one-time cash bonus of $75 deposited into their SoFi Money account within two weeks of qualification. Bonuses are considered miscellaneous income, and may be reportable to the IRS on Form 1099-MISC (or Form 1042-S, if applicable). SoFi reserves the right to exclude any Members from participating in the Program for any reason, including suspected fraud, misuse, or if suspicious activities are observed. SoFi also reserves the right to stop or make changes to the Program at any time.

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender