As life slowly crept back to normal in 2021 following the financial chaos and uncertainty of the year before, we were left with the desire to get a better handle on our individual money situations.
Maintaining a budget is an excellent way to start. While keeping tabs on your cash flow isn’t necessarily fun, it will help you stay focused on your future goals.
As 2021 winds down, here are the best budgeting lessons we learned that we’ll be carrying into the new year.
10 Top Budgeting Stories From 2021
Take this advice with you into the new year.
1. Save Money Every Month With the 70/20/10 Budget
The 70/20/10 budget is a percentage-based money management system where you earmark 70% of your take-home pay toward monthly expenses, 20% for saving and investing and 10% for extra debt payments or donating.
It’s a good budget to implement if you’re working toward savings goals and want to be more intentional about putting money aside each month.
2. Prioritize Health in Your Budget With These Cheap Gym Memberships
The fitness industry wants you to think you need to invest in a bunch of classes, equipment, fancy yoga pants and more to stay in peak physical shape. But you don’t have to spend all your money in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.
This list of national fitness chains offering cheap gym memberships will give you access to great workouts on a budget.
3. Enjoy a Low-Cost Vacation With Our Guide to Visiting the National Parks
Staying home for much of 2020 gave us the itch to travel as much as we could this year. Visiting the national parks helps to keep more money in the bank while still satisfying that wanderlust.
Check out our guide to a low-cost vacation at one of the national parks.
4. Learn How to Have Tough Money Talks from Broke Millennial’s Erin Lowry
This year, we caught up with financial influencer Erin Lowry to discuss her latest book “Broke Millennial Talks Money.” The book details how to have those awkward money discussions with the important people in your life.
We talked with Lowry about how to navigate those essential but uncomfortable conversations.
5. Download One of These Best Budgeting Apps for Couples
Your household runs better when you and your significant other are on the same page about spending, saving and other financial decisions. Sharing the same budgeting app helps you and your partner stay in sync.
Here are our recommendations for the best budgeting apps for couples.
6. Plan for Your Big Day by Creating a Wedding Budget
It’s easy to get caught up in all the darling details of planning a wedding — and then get overwhelmed when tallying up all the costs.
Take a proactive approach to wedding planning by creating a wedding budget upfront and account for all the expenses of your big day.
7. Consider Keeping Separate Bank Accounts from Your Spouse
When you join together as one in matrimony, you might believe all aspects of your life should be intertwined — including your finances. But there are reasons why separate bank accounts may be better for you.
This post shares the circumstances where it might be more beneficial to maintain individual bank accounts. It also explains how to successfully navigate shared expenses and financial goals.
8. Navigate Going From Two Incomes to One
2021 was a record year for people resigning from their jobs. But income loss — whether intentional or involuntary — can be a major source of financial stress.
Here are five ways to manage when you experience a significant reduction in your household income.
9. Learn How to Budget for Everything When You’re in the Sandwich Generation
Money can be tight when you’re trying to provide for your kids while also extending financial support to your aging parents. They call it the “sandwich generation” because you’re being squeezed from both sides.
If you’re in this boat (or are about to be), here is some helpful advice on how to handle financial matters.
10. Set Up a Retirement Budget so You Don’t Run Out of Money
There’s no way to predict how long you’ll need your retirement savings to last, so it’s important to be a conscious spender after you’ve said goodbye to your 9-to-5.
This article will help you build a retirement budget so you don’t have to stress about money in your golden years.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.