by Chelsea Hoffer

How to Make a Budget Using Goals

Making a budget is easy. Making a lightweight, uncomplicated budget that you can carry anywhere and use consistently is a lot harder. We get that, so we built Goals: a tool you can use to make a budget that’s fun to create and easy to use.
Simple online banking generated illustration of a living room

One of the first features we dreamed up and launched was Goals: a way to earmark money for a specific purpose. This uncomplicated definition makes them extremely versatile. You can save money to remodel your kitchen or cruise Mexico. You can also use them to create streamlined, easy-to-use budgets for everyday expenses. Give Goals a shot—you might just it’s find exactly what you need to make budgeting a habit.

Define why you’re budgeting

First, think about the reason you want to be more strategic with your spending: Do you want to build a buffer against unexpected events or emergencies? Do you want to free up some room in your budget for a passion project? Or do you simply want to reduce the stress that comes from spending without a plan?

The more clearly you can see the benefits of budgeting, the easier it’ll be to stick with it. A smart budget can help you do amazing things—so all you need to do now is pick what you’d like to accomplish.

Pick your spending categories

Your budget will be a lot more effective if you customize it to fit your personality and your expenses. Some folks like to be very specific and granular with their budgets, while others like to keep it loose and low-hassle. Spend a little timing thinking about your routine expenses, and break them into rough categories: rent, utilities, food, gifts, etc.

The example below is just to get your ideas flowing. Tweak it to fit your unique situation!

New Goals Phone

It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around; a Goals budget is easy to adjust and customize down the road.

Allocate money to each

Once you’ve decided on your spending categories, take a look at your income and decide how much you can spend on each. This step is easier if you’ve already spent some time tracking your spending. If you haven’t done that and you’re not sure exactly how much you normally spend within each category, that’s okay. Create a budget based on your best guess, and fine-tune it later.

Next, (preferably right after payday) create a Goal for each spending category. Learn how with our support article or tap any of the Goals below to add them to your account.

Rent

Rent
$325

Dinners out

Dinners out
$80

Misc

Misc
$100

When you create a Goal, you’ll always have the option to “Save until a date”, and if you have enough funds to cover the Goal right now, you’ll also be able to “Save now.” For budgeting Goals, choose “Save now.”

And that’s it—you’ve made your first budget with Goals! Now, it’s time to put it to use.

Spend from your Goals

Whenever you make a purchase that falls within the categories you’re tracking, take a moment to associate the transaction with the corresponding Goal. Just tap on the transaction and edit it to select the Goal you’d like to spend from. The money will automatically be pulled from that Goal rather than your Safe-to-Spend.

Stay on track

When you budget with Goals, it’s easy to quickly sign in to the mobile app and check how much money you have left in your budget before making a purchase. If you run out of money in one category, you can either stop spending or free up some extra funds by deciding to spend less elsewhere. It’s a good idea to make a note whenever you run out so you can adjust the amount you allocate to that spending category next pay period.

Re-filling your budget

The next time you get paid, your Goals will probably be depleted. Luckily, it’s easy to refill them. You can do this on the computer or with the mobile app—they’re both great, but a computer is definitely quickest. On a computer, click on your Safe-to-Spend banner, drag it, and drop on the Goal you’d like to fund. A menu will pop up asking you how much you’d like to transfer. You can also drag and drop to transfer money between Goals.

Goals Gif

If you’re using the mobile app, tap on a Goal and select “Transfer.” You’ll be able to select whether you’re transferring money to or from the Goal from another Goal or your Safe-to-Spend.

Let’s get going

Budgeting allows you to be strategic with your money, making sure that your spending reflects your plans and priorities. Like any new habit, it takes time and dedication, but it’s totally doable, especially with the right tools. And the payoff? So worth it. Give it a shot; your future self will thank you for it.

Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from Simple.com, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner banks, The Bancorp Bank and BBVA Compass, endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.