Budgets, the word sounds like the adult version of being told to do your chores, or you won’t get your allowance. No one wants to do it, we all procrastinate, or do a crude job only to be told it’s not good enough to get your allowance. In the end, we do it the right way because we want that allowance! Without going too crazy today, I’ll give you a few tips to cutting monthly expenses, and hopefully give you a solid start to making a budget that works for you.
A big thing to remember, when you try to adhere to a super strict budget, the temptation to splurge can become greater. Just like on a diet, that cheat meal turns into a cheat day, then 3 days, and then you’re saying, “I can’t possibly re-start my diet on a Tuesday! Better wait for Monday!” Plan a budget that lets you have a little fun, here’s a few steps that can help big time!
1- Keep your receipts, even if you paid cash: keep track of how much you’re spending and on what. Spreadsheets are my favorite, being able to see that you spent $25 a week on your morning coffee, may make you see that buying a coffee pot for $40 dollars, a travel cup for $15, and then spend $20 per month on bags of coffee, can save you around $800 a year. How did I get that number? Last time I went to Starbucks, my coffee was $4.75, if you get coffee 5 times per week, for 50 weeks of the year, it’s nearly $1,200. A $40 coffee maker, $15 travel cup, $20 per month in coffee beans, and then even another $10 on creamer, sugar, etc… make sense? $800 a year, that could be a vacation, better Christmas gifts for your loved ones, paying down debts, or actually having that emergency fund that gives you peace of mind.
2- Buying in bulk: Lots of people are huge proponents of buying in bulk. The premise is great, but what if you aren’t consuming the goods before they go bad? One way is to buy in bulk and split the quantity with someone else. A coworker and I live in the same apartment complex, and neither of us need 4 dozen eggs, but we buy them, she takes 2 dozen, and I take 2 dozen. Keep in mind that if the food goes bad, or you don’t have room to store 100 rolls of toilet paper, you’re not helping yourself, find your balance.
3- Look for added expenses: Does your bank charge you a monthly service fee? That can be $10-$12 per month. By switching to a bank that actually has free checking, you can save $100-$124 per year! This is just one example of the little things we don’t think about. Things like car washes, pet expenses, medical visits, and prescriptions are other things we don’t always think about.
4- Adjust accordingly: If you notice that something changes, either needs or income wise, don’t be afraid of readjusting or redistributing to make your budget more realistic. During the summer there may be more things you want to do, go to the pool, go on hikes, go boating, whatever it is, it probably means you’ll be spending a bit more on gas, clothes, etc… keeping a watchful eye and knowing how much you can spend, and what you do spend will ensure that your budget works for you.
5- Reward yourself: When you make your budget, decide on a little something you can do for yourself if you come in under budget each month. Say you save yourself an extra $50 one month. DON’T SPEND THE WHOLE $50! Put $25 in your emergency or savings fund, and then do something nice for yourself. I have an obsession with mascara, maybe your thing is clothes, car parts, or maybe you just take yourself to the movies. Whatever it is, make sure you relate it with being rewarded for a job well done.
6- Set goals- Last tip, and this is a big one… know why you need a budget. What are your financial goals, both long term, and short term. Set weekly goals, such as saving $10 extra in your emergency or savings fund, monthly might be $50-$100, and so on. The most important thing to keep in mind, is to know where you are, and where you want to be.
There you have it, the basics of making your own budget. If you need more assistance, feel free to send me a Facebook message! Make today great!