10 Tips for Living on a Budget
on May 12, 2014
If you’ve got goals to go big in life, you’ll need to start now to fund your way. Take a hint from us, and try out these 10 Tips for Living on a Budget. We’re confident you’ll be thanking us all the way to the bank.
The thought of living on a budget may have you feeling like you've signed up for a month-long parade of womp-womp, but au contraire, dearies. Saving money is an art form, and it's trendier than ever, especially in our current economy. After all, paying down debt, taking luxurious and adventurous vacations and saving for those unavoidable rainy days doesn't come without a little forethought and planning.
If you’ve got goals to go big in life (because, why not?), you’ll need to start now to fund your way. It’s always a good time to create a budget that will fuel and sustain your life, and if you’re wondering where to start, well, good news: THIS IS IT.
Take a hint from us, and try out these 10 Tips for Living on a Budget. We’re confident you’ll be thanking us all the way to the bank (ching!).
- Estimate your income and expenses. Before you can live on a budget, you have to create one, and you'll have to start by knowing exactly how much is coming in and going out. Make a list of total income from your full time job, side work, etc., and then make a list of your total fixed expenses each month. What remains is your discretionary income-the money you can control, and work with to save/spend most effectively.
- Track your spending. You'll need to know where your money is going in order to know where to make changes. Take a month and track your spending easily with an online budgeting service or app, like Mint.com.
- Reduce expenses. Once you've tracked your spending, make choices about how and where to reduce. Do you really need a landline and a cell phone? Take steps to reduce your monthly utilities costs, cut off your cable, choose to bike instead of drive, and make coffee at home instead of purchasing that $4 designer latte every morning.
- Set goals. Decide exactly how much you want to save each month, and how much you'll agree to spend. Create daily, weekly, monthly and yearlong goals around your savings, in order to stay committed.
- Watch the way you shop. Before you hit the grocery store, make a list of what you absolutely need and stick to it. Carve out a budget for groceries each week, and make it your mission not to go over. Avoid online shopping, and make a list of items you will need to buy over the course of the next six months. Prioritize your needs before your wants, and buy one item each month from your list.
- Cash only. Credit card debt can be a giant hole to crawl your way out of, so choose cash every time when making purchases. Save your credit card for emergency items only, and if you do use it, make sure to pay the balance in full each month to avoid unnecessary interest charges.
- Consider additional sources of income. This may seem obvious, but if there's nothing left over at the end of the month, it may be time to plump up your income. If you're due for a raise, now is the time to ask. Love hanging out at the coffee shop on Saturdays? Ask if they're hiring, and consider taking on part time work on the weekend to help you catch up, and reach your savings goals.
- Make a psychological adjustment. If you've been trying too hard to keep up with those fancy-pants Joneses, it may be time to accept, and make peace with the fact that you have and are enough, just as you are. Living up to an image of how you think your life should be can be extremely destructive, and can wreak havoc on your wallet and self-esteem. Adjust your perspective and embrace your reality. You're good enough, smart enough and yes, PEOPLE DO LIKE YOU (even without the designer handbag-promises).
- Clip coupons. Make it your motto: If it's not on sale, it's NOT happening. Entire online businesses are devoted to coupon clippers (Livingsocial.com, Groupon.com), and savings are everywhere, but only if you're looking. Scour the newspaper, social media and consider asking a business to make you a deal before you purchase.
- Experiences come before STUFF. Fill in the gaps in your life with new relationships, join a local (and free) bookclub or pickup basketball team. Spend your free time at free concerts and festivals, and consider that your life will be richer by where you've been, who you met and how you lived, rather than how many ipads, designer sunglasses and pedicures you purchase.
Photo | US News