Do you constantly find yourself overspending? Are you trying to save money or make your dollars stretch further? No matter your reasons for wanting to budget, there is no doubt that it can be challenging. Here are 10 tips for a better budget:
1. Set realistic goals for yourself.
For example, instead of saying you want to save $1,000, figure out what smaller steps you can take to get there. Saving just $21 a week will help you save a little more than $1,000 in a year.
2. Use cash.
When you pay for things with cash, you will be more conscious of how much you’re spending. You can withdraw a certain amount of money from the ATM and make sure you spend only that amount. When you use a debit card, you might not realize how much you’ve spent until you check your bank statements.
3. Keep a journal for your spending.
Be sure to list everything: the amount of money that you spend on gas, groceries, or any other purchases that you make throughout the month. This is a great way to see exactly how your money is being spent and can help you figure out where to cut costs.
One great and inexpensive budget journal is The Clever Fox Budget Planner. It is undated so you can start at any time and you can easily track expenses so you can take control of your spending.
4. Avoid using credit cards – unless it’s for cashback.
While it’s best to avoid using credit cards, the exception is when they offer cashback rewards. If you use credit cards to earn cash back, be sure to pay off the balance right away to prevent interest from accumulating. My favorite credit card earning cash back is the Chase Freedom Card.
5. Use coupons or promotional codes.
Do you use coupons when you go grocery shopping? What about when you go out to eat? You can use sites just like WNYDealsandTodos.com to get discounts on everything from restaurants to clothing.
6. Cut out seemingly inexpensive habits.
Do you stop every day for coffee from Starbucks? Do you always pick up a candy bar at the grocery store? Small habits can really add up over time. See if there are ways you can still enjoy your favorite things without spending loads of money (e.g., brewing your own coffee at home).
7. Consider ways you can boost your income.
Do you love to knit or crochet? Are you experienced with graphic arts? Have you always dreamt of writing a book? No matter what your interests or hobbies are, you might be able to find some way to make some extra money.
8. Get rid of monthly subscriptions you don’t use.
Are you unable to find time to go to the gym, even though you pay for a membership? Do you have Netflix and Hulu, even though you only use one? If you don’t use a monthly subscription, why continue paying for it?
9. Consider how you can cut costs but still have fun.
Instead of going to the movie theater, why not consider renting a movie at RedBox? Instead of going on an expensive vacation, why not plan a staycation? Even though it may seem like a sacrifice, you can still have fun when you make budget-friendly choices.
10. Enlist the whole family.
Sticking to a budget can be a lot more difficult when you’re doing it alone. Encourage your family members to get involved. If you have young children, why not make sticking to a budget a game? Check out this article on how to help teach kids how to save money.
These are just 10 tips for a better budget. It’s important to keep in mind that there are so many things you can do to save money or spend your money more wisely. The key is figuring out what works for you and sticking with it!