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How do you save money? Where does the word “budget” even come from? Today, we’re talking all about budgets, from helpful tips on maintaining your budget to the tale of Britain’s Red Budget Box.

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Hello, and welcome to Mental Floss.

I'm Erin McCarthy. Brace yourself, because in today's episode, presented by Discover, we're talking about budgets...and Shakespeare...and squirrels!

It'll all make sense. You'll see. Let's do this!

Before we talk about your budget let's talk about a much bigger budget: the. United Kingdom's. Every year the Chancellor of the Exchequer presents the budget to both the House of Commons and the public.

This momentous occasion is declared Budget Day, and like so many other parts of UK culture it's steeped in tradition. In this case tradition takes the form of a scarlet suitcase. Traditionally on budget day morning the Chancellor of the Exchequer appears at 11 Downing Street for a photo-op with a briefcase once used by Queen Victoria's budget chief, William E.

Gladstone. Gladstone actually used the briefcase to contain budget papers, and he also once delivered a four hour and 45 minute budget speech, so let's be glad that not all traditions have lived on. Embossed with Queen Victoria's monogram and lined in black satin, the case was quite the natty accessory back in the day.

But today it's more like a ratty accessory. Although not every Chancellor of the Exchequer used Gladstone's briefcase, the vast majority did and the wear and tear was evident. When the 150 year old battered case was finally put out to pasture in 2010 it was replaced with a near replica.

The main difference? The royal monogram now belongs to Queen Elizabeth the second. Okay, now let's talk budgets that are a little more personal: namely, your own.

According to a 2017 study, only 41% of Americans use a budget, maybe because sticking to it can be a challenge. These tips from Ciscover will help make budgeting a little easier. First of all, have savings goals.

One rule of thumb says you should think of your money in terms of 50/20/30. Spend 50% on essentials, things like food, housing and utilities. 20 percent should go to savings, which includes 401(k)s and paying down debt, and the remaining 30 percent is all yours to spend however you want. But don't get too excited just yet.

Things like your cell phone bill, streaming services, travel and going out with friends all fall under that 30 percent. Sticking to a budget will help you hit these goals and you'll probably think twice before buying something you can't afford if you keep your budget in mind. Having a long-term goal like a fun vacation can also help you stick to your savings goals.

Automate as much as possible, and that's not just for things like paying your bills. It goes for your 401(k) and your savings account, too. Set up your direct deposit so at least some money gets put into your savings directly.

You can also download apps that use the roundup method to automatically transfer small amounts of money into a savings or investment account. You can receive notifications if you spend more than a certain monthly amount on your credit card, or if you spend more than a set amount in a single transaction. Sometimes a little reminder is all you need to change your spending behaviors, and other behaviors...but that's another topic entirely.

I know that in the moment it feels like you really, really need that LED light-up shower head. But write it down, wait 30 days, and then see if you're still madly in love with it. A lot of the time you'll find out the urge to purchase passes pretty quickly.

But, for the record, I've gotten a ton of use out of that shower head... so, yeah... Sticking to a budget doesn't necessarily mean abstaining from shopping altogether. If you have a credit card that gives you rewards or cashback, use those rewards to treat yourself without impacting your budget.

With Discover Cashback Match, they will automatically match all the cashback you earn at the end of your first year. Finding simple, effective ways to stick to a budget will set you up for a brighter financial future. Another smart move?

Keeping an eye on your credit score. Discover offers a free credit score card and checking it won't impact your score. It's totally free, even if you aren't a Discover customer.

Check yours in seconds. As we've been told over and over again, time is money. So learning how to allocate your time is just as important as making sure your financial budget is well balanced.

Try these tips to make sure you're not throwing your precious time, and money, down the drain. For a few days try to keep track of everything you spend your time on. This could be as easy as keeping a notebook handy and jotting things down as you do them, or there are a number of apps that will also do the trick.

Do whatever is easiest for you. This may seem silly, but it may help you identify time sucks that you didn't even know were a problem. I mean, we all know those five-minute breaks to surf the internet really add up.

Give yourself a set amount of time to complete a task and stick to it. Need to send an email to your boss? Designate 5 minutes and get it done, instead of spending 30 half writing an email and half responding to others.

And there's a bonus here. This method may also help prevent procrastination. If you know you have a set time to complete your task it may help you focus long enough to get it accomplished.

There are apps that can help you with sticking to time limits. Let's face it: most of the time you think you're multitasking, you're not. You're just dividing your attention among tasks, which can just make them take longer.

Tackle one thing at a time and get your to-do lists cranked out quickly. Adjust your schedule to your most productive times of day. Not a morning person?

Then stop trying to be one. Identify when you feel the most on top of your game throughout the day and try to plan your most challenging tasks during that time period. Of course, whether you're a night owl or a nine to fiver this won't always work perfectly, but do your best and you're sure to see a boost in your efficiency.

When Shakespeare wrote, "Tinkers may have leave to live and bare the sow-skin budget" in The Winter's. Tale, he wasn't talking about a careful balance of bills and expenditures. Back then the word budget referred to a purse or carrying case, with origins in the.

French word bougette, a small bag. Over time, though, people began to use the word to refer to the contents within the bag, which was very often paperwork. The meaning of budget further evolved to specifically reference papers containing news, which is what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote this in 1785: "I received by.

Mr. Short a budget of London papers. They team with every horror of which human nature is capable." The news meaning is also why old newspapers sometimes had budget in the title, such as Oregon's Astoria Evening Budget.

It also came to mean speaking one's mind, like when Anne Bronte wrote, "There's Matilda...and I must go and open my budget to her." Ultimately the usage of budget in the financial sense dates from the mid 1700s when British newspapers and political pamphlets began using it to poke fun at politicians. One 1733 pamphlet exposed Sir Robert Walpole's tax plans with the headline "The Budget Opened," and we've been using it with a financial meaning ever since. We all know that squirrels hoard and store nuts for later use, which is a fantastic budget tip for us all: gather more than you need and save the excess for later.

But a 2017 study in the Royal Society of Open Science revealed that there's a method to that squirrely madness. Though it may appear otherwise to our human eyes, eastern fox squirrels can be very deliberate about where they keep the three to ten thousand nuts they store every year. Instead of burying them willy-nilly, the researchers found that the squirrels in one of their experiments categorize nuts together according to similar characteristics.

They may group acorns and acorns together or walnuts with walnuts. Or maybe they mix the type of nut but stash smaller ones in one place and large ones elsewhere. This method of keeping similar things in groups for easy recall is called spatial chunking, and we use it, too.

For instance, when you go to the grocery store you probably mentally group your list: produce with produce, meat with meat, dairy with dairy and so on. Squirrels: they're just as smart as we are! Here's another interesting tidbit to tuck away.

If squirrels think that another animal is watching them while they're burying nuts, they'll actually pretend to drop their stash, cover the hole with dirt, and then go elsewhere to really hide them. This is not a method we recommend for your budget. Thanks for watching Mental Floss video, which is made with the help of all of these nice people.

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