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7 Tips to Stay on Budget
For many people, staying on 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. You first have to create an effective budget and then stay within that budget. If you are having a hard time staying within your budget, some of these tips may help.
Need more help with your budget? Check out my post on creating an effective budget.
Consider the following tips for staying within your budget:
1. Put Your Credit Cards Away. Put them somewhere you cannot get to them easily. It’s so easy to forget the real 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 or just keep one in your wallet for real emergencies.
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 give you a sense of what you spend the most money on.
Not sure if you want to use regular envelopes for your cash? Check out these awesome cash envelope systems.
3. Use Cash. It’ll help you see the actual value of what you’re paying 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. Check out 5 Ways to Reduce Your Cable Bill for tips on saving on your cable expenses and my post on how to Save Money on Your Electric Bill to get started.
- Bring your lunch to work. I find this hard to do at times, but I try to do it at least three days a week because it 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 a case of water is a whole lot cheaper than spending $2.50 on bottled water at the restaurant or takeout place.
5. Grocery Shopping. There are certain luxury items that some people opt to put 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. This can be one of the best places to save money in your budget.
- Use Coupons! Visit my coupon center to print out your grocery coupons and make sure you have your store’s rewards card so you get all the sales and deals. Have no idea how to use coupons? Check out my free e-course!
- Look out for Gas savings and other savings like bringing your reusable bags which grocery stores sometimes give you 5 cents credit per bag you use. Seems small but it adds up and you are also saving the environment.
6. Budget for a splurge item. Treat yourself to something special every once in awhile, while still staying within 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. This will actually show you that when you budget you know when you have money to spend and won’t feel guilty doing it.
- It may be something you’ve meant 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. Make Homemade Gifts. There are many holidays throughout the year where you’re expected to deliver gifts for your loved ones. If you’re tight on 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 print them; they just sit on Facebook or in their camera. Print those out for them as a surprise and buy a beautiful photo album to put them in. The cost is minimal, and the gift is very thoughtful!
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.
With the right techniques, a budget can be the tool that brings you freedom! Staying within your budget does not have to be difficult. Budgets are meant to change if needed. Check out How to Modify Your Budget for more on that.