We’ve all been there—staring at our bank accounts, thinking to ourselves, “Man, I have got to do something about this.” Whether it’s overspending, needing to pay of student loans or even coming up short and digging into our emergency fund at the end of the month, money can become overwhelming and stressful.
Our world is run by the almighty dollar, but money doesn’t have to rule your world. You can take charge of your money, track your spending habits and find eventual loops holes to save you sometimes hundreds of dollars each month! Getting smart about your money and learning to budget will revolutionize your spending and provide you with a valuable lifelong skill.
The best part about it is, you don’t have to be an accountant to do it. Here are a few practical tips and ideas to think about when looking at your bank account next time.
Evaluate Your Goals
So the first step in finding wriggle room in your budget is having a budget in the first place. You’ll want to chart out your costs each month, like rent or mortgage, internet, electricity, water and so forth and so on. Then, look at the income you have left over and come up with reasonable ideas on what you want to save, put towards a longterm payment and what you want to allot yourself for spending each month. Some people put aside some money for charity, tithing and emergency funds as well.
What you’ve come up with is a solid start to your budget. Next, you’ll want to look at each section and get specific with the things eating at each. Realizing where you’re putting most of your disposable income will help you save more of it!
Some expenses are nonnegotiable. You can’t, not, pay your rent or mortgage, electricity bill and water bill. However, some expenses aren’t necessary, and you might consider making edits.
To provide a popular example, many people are making the switch to a Netflix subscription instead of paying for cable. There are any internet plans that offer high speed internet in conjunction with an HBO subscription, for example, that you might want to consider. Check out these 15 reasons why you should cut the cord, if you’re not convinced.
You could potentially find some wiggle room in you cellphone bill, as well. If you have regularly access to wifi, would it be worth it to you to cut down on your gigabytes of data each month? With all expense cuts, of course, you have to evaluate what is important to you and what you value. For some, getting rid of cable would be too much because of how much they enjoy sports channels!
Groceries and Restaurant Spending
Food is a necessity. We need to eat a healthy diet to sustain us, and unfortunately food will always eat into our budgets. Because of convenience, dates with friends or needing a break from the kitchen, restaurant costs eat into our grocery budgets each month, too.
There are always costs that can be made when it comes to food. It is, in general, less expensive to make meals at home and buy some groceries in bulk. If going out for coffee is a sizable cost of you, maybe you would consider brewing it at home 5 days out of the week instead of going out every day for your cup o’ joe.
Make a goal sheet of how many times you want to allow yourself to eat out each week, or month. Becoming smart about the groceries you buy, whether it be taking advantage of sales or buying off brands, can also save you a ton of money in this department.
Whatever you decide to spend the rest of your income on goes into this category. Sometimes there isn’t a lot of money left for what you want and don’t need, and if that’s the case, then the tips above will hopefully help you save a bit more so you can get a few things on that wishlist!
For those of us who have a bad habit of over spending in this category—no shame, no shame—it’s time to take a look at your track record. This comes down to a personal decision to go without. Whether it’s clothes, pets, expensive furniture or travel, you may have to cut down depending on how much money you want to have left over at the end of the month.
You’ve done everything above and you still want to save a bit more. Here are a few ideas to help you cut costs even further.
Hand Wash Your Dishes. You may be giggling and saying no way, but try it for a month and see how much you save on water by not using your dish washer!
Coupons. Paying attention to sales and taking advantage of the coupons you can find online will help you shop smarter. Check out these cool coupon websites and see how much you can save!
Save Receipts. You never know when a purchase won’t work out. Saving your receipts will allow you to get your money back for items that break unexpectedly, or that your change your mind about.
To make some extra money at home, try these 5 ways to make extra money on the side.