When you think about budgeting, it’s easy to assume that a monthly budget is the best. Is that true? And if not, why not? Is weekly budgeting better than monthly? Some financial advisors say yes, and their reasoning makes a lot of sense.
How You Get Paid Counts
Are you paid weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly? A weekly budget can accommodate all these, but those who get paid bi-weekly may notice the most immediate results.
When sorting out your finances on a weekly basis, do you have less money at the end of the second week or fourth week? You may be able to address that as a problem that needs to be solved faster with a weekly budget than a monthly one.
It’s All About Volume
One reason why making a weekly budget can be helpful to you? There are far fewer details to pay attention to when trying to assess such a plan and its effectiveness.
A monthly budget makes it far easier to give in to spending temptations and impulse buying. You might not be preparing for the coronavirus or fighting a late-night urge to shop on Amazon.com.
Monthly bills like rent, utilities, and student loans are important to respect when creating a weekly budget.
But your discretionary spending (the money you spend day-to-day and week-to-week) does not happen on a monthly basis–it happens daily. A weekly budget anticipates this and gives you more control over your finances.
Furthermore, there are fewer weekly transactions than monthly when it comes to tracking your spending habits and watching your bottom line. If you figure your weekly expenses and deal with them on a weekly basis, you give yourself a more level playing field, so to speak, than trying to remember or track all your spending for a full 30-day month.
You can use apps and software not only to plan how much to spend each week AND how much to pay yourself, you can also use them to transfer money to accounts and automate (or semi-automate) the process. Apps like Digit, which is touted as a digital financial assistant, can make saving and paying yourself much easier to manage.
You can use Digit or similar apps to give yourself a weekly spending allowance. How much that allowance should be is dependent on your debt load, your financial goals, and your income.
If you need help sorting out these issues, it may be wise to consider a financial planner or some self-help books on financial planning (not investing, but budgeting and saving advice) to get started. Many people find they need to customize their approach to such advice to suit their goals, but that is fairly typical and shouldn’t keep you from seeking help.
When seeking out third-party apps and software, beware of those marketed to you via unsolicited communication via e-mail, social media, or text messaging. Reaching out to an app developer or software provider is one thing; responding to marketing you receive unsolicited is asking for trouble.
Joe Wallace specializes in personal finance, military affairs, and consumer protection topics. Since 1995, his work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and collects unusual vinyl records, which gives him an excuse to write the vinyl blog Turntabling.net.