7 Tips for Staying Within Your Budget (I know you hate that word)
For many people, staying within a budget can be very challenging. Even the word “budget” makes them cringe. If keeping to your budget seems like an unattainable task, you’ll be happy to know that there are ways to stretch your budget and still enjoy a quality lifestyle.
Some budgets (there is that word again!) may work well with your lifestyle, while others may not. If you find that one technique is difficult, all is not lost! Other techniques may be a better fit, which can then lead to the financial freedom you desire. The trick is finding the way that works for you and not giving up!
Consider the following tips for staying within your budget:
1. Put Your Credit Cards Away. You can even freeze your cards in water if it’ll deter you from using them! It’s so easy to forget the true costs of the things you buy when you just swipe your card. Don’t feel guilty about falling for this trick; the easiest way to combat it is to keep your cards hidden away. Only bring them out when they’re truly needed.
2. Make Envelopes. Grab a stack of envelopes, mark each one with a designated expense, and put in your allotted allowance for each expense. It’s easy to stay on track when the money for your bills is pre-counted and away from reach. Automating your bills is even better so you cannot spend the money designated for that bill (just make sure you have enough money in the bank to cover it). You can even go as far as having an envelope marked lunch money, gas money etc in your purse. That will really give you a sense of what you spend the most money on.
3. Use Cash. It’ll help you see the true value of what you’re spending if you only use cash. If you don’t like handling money, you could opt for using your debit card. Just remember to stay on top of your balance so you don’t overdraw your account.
4 Cut Back. Believe it or not, there are usually ways you can cut back without even feeling much of a difference.
- Take some time out of your weekend to call up the cable company, the phone company, or your cell phone company. Discuss different lower cost plans. Maybe you don’t use all of your cell phone minutes each month or perhaps you can live without HBO.
- Bring your lunch to work. I find this hard to do at times but I try to do it at least two days a week because it really adds up! If you do go out to eat or do takeout avoid ordering a drink because those can cost you a lot. Bring drinks to work, a 12 pack of soda or case of water is a whole lot cheaper than spending $2.50 on a bottle water at the restaurant or takeout place.
5. Grocery Shopping. There are certain luxury items that some people opt to place in their budgets, while others won’t. However, a grocery bill is something that everyone shares. Analyze how much you spend each week at the grocery store and see if you can bring down the average amount.
- Coupon clipping is a must! Visit my coupon center to print out your grocery coupons and make sure you have your stores rewards card so you get all the sales and deals.
- Look out for Gas savings and other savings like bringing your own reusable bags which grocery stores sometimes give you 5 cents credit per bag you use. Seems small but it adds up and your also saving the environment.
6. Budget for a Splurge Item. Treat yourself to something special every once in a while, while still staying in your budget. While you may not be able to afford it too often, you can save up some money for a special treat for yourself.
- It may be something you’ve been meaning to get or maybe you just want some money to hit up the town or go to a movie. The point is, if you’ve budgeted for this it won’t be a shock when you balance the books later.
7. Homemade Gifts. There are always many holidays throughout the year where you’re expected to deliver gifts for your loved ones. If you’re tight with cash, don’t forget about homemade gifts. These gifts are most often considered more thoughtful than anything you could have purchased.
- For example, make a scrapbook or photo album. While there’s some cost involved, the finished product will be priceless – yet far less than the latest gadget. Plus especially for moms, they take a million pictures of their kids but sometimes do not have time to go print them, they just sit on Facebook or in their camera. Print those out for them as a surprise and buy a nice photo album to put them in. The cost is minimal and the gift is very thoughtful! I often post about FREE photo prints so keep checking back.
Keep at it!
If you’re still having trouble balancing the budget, it’s important to keep trying new things until you have a system that makes you feel comfortable. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A financial planner or financial counselor can give you even more valuable ideas especially if your financial situation is complicated.
With the right techniques, a budget can be the tool that brings you freedom!
If you are looking for more personal finance advice make sure you are signed up for my Newsletter and also check out my Book! Thank you for reading and please leave any questions and comments below.