How to Save Money Even on a Tight Budget

Saving money is important, but sometimes it can be hard to find extra money to save – right? While saving money can often be a challenge, it’s not impossible to do – even on a strict budget. Here are three ways you may be able to save when your spare funds are on the lower side.

Find deals online: Sites like Groupon or Living Social have a lot of deals in terms of entertainment and dining out. Did you know you can use them for much more? Both often have deals on electronics, automotive repair, health and beauty, home services and more! The best way to find these deals is to register with your zip code and browse around to find how you can save locally. If these are products and services that you’re already going to pay for or that you’re in need of, saving money in the process is an added bonus!

Trim it up: When you go on a diet, you may notice a little bit of weight loss in several different areas of your body. You should treat your budget the exact same way. Don’t try to cut back on (or completely cut out) one budget item, but trim a few dollars from different places. Some bills you aren’t going to be able to budge on, but you will most likely find a few areas you can cut back here and there. Take advantage of these savings and you’ll start to see it add up. Plus, you won’t feel as if you’re cutting anything out of your budget completely.

Spend more time at home: The more you’re out and about, the more you’re going to eat meals out and spend money on items you don’t really need. Instead of meeting your friends out for dinner and a movie, host a potluck dinner (ask everyone to bring something) – and watch your favorite movie or rent one from your local Redbox. You’ll save money, plus you can pause the movie when you need to and not spend a fortune on movie theater snacks. That’s a win-win for everyone!

Need help budgeting? Check out our online budgeting fillable worksheet!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

How to Create an Easy to Follow Budget

Are you the type of person that when you see something you like, you just buy it? It really is important to plan for the future and really take hold of your finances. If you or someone you know doesn’t budget well, here are a few easy ways to get started.

Housing: This category will most likely be the largest portion of your budget. If you’re a homeowner, along with the mortgage, insurance, and property taxes – make sure you include necessary utilities (gas, sewer, electric, etc.), and some extra cash for any emergency repairs. If you’re renting, you’ll still have to budget for your monthly rent and any utilities.

Transportation: When it comes to transportation, there’s a lot more than just your monthly car payment. Gas, insurance, and preventative maintenance such as oil changes – should also be included within your budget. This is another area where it’s a good idea to save some extra cash for any repairs you may not see coming. Planning ahead will help keep your car on the road, which will also keep money in your pocket.

Life: This budget category will cover a lot (think food, health insurance, medical, clothing, entertainment, wireless, tuition, childcare, etc.). All of these items will add up to a sizable portion of your budget. You may need to separate some into their own category and monitor them.

Debt and Savings: This final category is one of the most important. Saving money for your future (401k, Roth IRA) is something you want to make sure you’re doing every month. The earlier you start, the better. You’ll be surprised at how a little each month can add up over time when you make use of compound interest. Also, make sure you’re steadily paying down any debt you have – so you can enjoy your financial freedom.

Need help setting up a budget? Check out our budgeting guide.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

6 Easy to Forget Expenses to Include in Your Budget

Creating a budget is never easy, it can take months or even years to perfect the process. Plus, life is always changing so a budget that worked a few months ago might not necessarily work now. One of the most common reasons people find budgeting so hard is because there are so many different expenses to keep track of. The big ones, like housing and food, are pretty obvious. However, often there are little things we forget about that can derail a budget from the start.

The next time you evaluate your budget, consider these six expenses that people often forget to plan ahead on:

1. Celebrations

It seems like every week, we’re always celebrating something. From birthdays to weddings to holidays, our schedules are jam packed with social events. However, we often forget that these celebrations come with hefty price tags. Gifts, travel costs, and party attire can add up quickly. Not accounting for these items can really throw your budget off. For example, if you know you have a few weddings coming up in the next year, be sure to set aside funds to cover any associated costs. Also be sure to increase your budget during the holiday season to account for gifts and travel.

2. Pet Care

We love our pets, but there’s no denying that caring for them can get expensive. We tend to only think of pet care expenses in terms of things they use everyday, like food – but any pet owner knows that there are many other major costs associated with our furry friends. Healthcare, including regular veterinary visits, is a big one. Grooming and pet sitting is another. These are expenses for your pet that may not happen every month, but they’re regular enough that you should include them in your annual budget.

3. Coffee

Any good budget will include a category for food and dining, but don’t forget to include coffee in there as well. We all know how much a cup of coffee can cost – anywhere from $2 for a regular cup to $6 for a latte. Whether you make your own or go to your local Starbucks, make sure you understand how much you’re really spending on your coffee addiction every month.

4. Home Maintenance

Many first time homeowners are unpleasantly surprised by the cost of home maintenance. Aside from utilities and minor repairs, there are several recurring expenses, such as lawn maintenance, landscaping and weather proofing that homeowners often forget. Expenses like these can drive up the cost of owning a home considerably.

5. Me Fund

When we’re trying to stick to a tight budget, we often forget about ourselves. If you’re trying to cut your budget, spending on things you enjoy is likely the first expense to go. Don’t underestimate the value of having a me fund, though. It can be anything, from a night out to a pedicure – but doing even something small from time to time can drastically improve your mood and increase your productivity.

6. Emergency Fund

The one thing people most often forget to account for is an emergency fund. This is also the most important.  In life, you never really know what can happen, and you need an emergency fund to protect you from whatever life throws your way. Your budget should include a portion set aside for emergencies. Many recommend that you have 3 months of expenses on hand at any given moment. You can decide the amount you’re comfortable with and then start to save up for it. Just remember to make this a priority.

Need help setting up a budget? Check out our easy Budgeting Guidebook and Worksheet.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com

Budget Busting Rationalizations to Stop Doing Immediately

Did you spend money you didn’t intend to this past holiday season? If you are regularly falling victim to money rationalization (talking yourself into a purchase you don’t really need or can’t afford), you are doing yourself and your budget no favors.

Have you told yourself any of the following lies recently? If so, make it your new year’s resolution to stop right now.

  1. It’s on sale! There’s a very good reason why retailers put things on sale, offer two for one deals and give discounts. By offering something on sale, it gives the consumer a sense of urgency about purchasing the item. You know that the sale or discount will not last forever, so you want to snatch up the item before you lose out on the great deal. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how good a bargain the price is if you don’t need that item, because it’s still too expensive. If you are tempted by an item that’s on sale, put it down and walk away. If you still want it the next day (or even the next week), go ahead and buy it. The sale will still be in effect, and you will know that this is a good purchase, and not just an exercise in retail psychology.
  2. Buy now and save later. Later is a great time to do things you don’t want to do, whether that’s budgeting or dieting. It’s very easy to promise yourself that you’ll pay for your splurge by saving money in the future. If you are trying to rationalize a purchase by thinking about what you can give up next week or next month to pay for it, then you simply can’t afford the purchase. If you haven’t learned how to budget (or diet, etc), you’re not going to magically wake up knowing how to do this in the future. Telling yourself no now will be the first step in being the savvy budgeter you hope to be tomorrow.
  3. I need a reward. After a stressful period at work or at the end of a major project, it can be easy to want to reward yourself with something nice. But looking at a new pair of shoes or an expensive car and thinking “I deserve this!” is not the right way to go about being financially secure. Giving in to impulse buys because of stress will not help you achieve your financial goals.
  4. I want to fit in. Sometimes the worst purchasing mistakes come from peer pressure. It’s much easier to spend money when everyone around you is doing the same. Even if your friends would never dream of putting pressure on you, just seeing them spend money can influence your decisions. If this is a problem for you, then shopping should no longer be an activity you do with friends. Find other ways to socialize with the people in your life. Your bank account will thank you.

The best weapon you have against spending rationalization is to know yourself. If you are aware of the things that deceive you into purchases, then it will be much easier to avoid them.

And if you haven’t created a budget for yourself – that might be part of the problem. Learn everything you need to know about budgeting with our quick budgeting guide.

Article Source: Emily Guy Birken for Moneyning.com

How to Recover from a Blown Budget

Went a little crazy on holiday shopping and now your budget is completely off track? Get back on the path to financial freedom and kick off the new year with the following tips:

  1. Stop dwelling. Going over your budget isn’t fun, but it’s not the end of the world. Life happens and you can’t be perfect all the time. Acknowledge that you messed up, then move on. Obsessing about it isn’t going to bring your money back.
  2. Get back into your old routine. Play a little bit of catch up: pay your bills, balance your checkbook, and schedule transfers to pay off some debt if possible. Sometimes when you fall off track, it makes you want to stay off track. It takes more effort to jump back on the bandwagon than it does to remain on the same path. That’s why it’s important to get back into your old routine as soon as you have the chance. Get everything caught up, map out a plan for the remainder of the month, and immediately return to your former routine.
  3. Temporarily cut expenses. If you need to cut back, consider the following tactics:
  • Eat at home until you’ve cleaned your shelves/refrigerator/freezer out.
  • Have “no-spend” days, when you don’t spend a single penny.
  • Skip paid entertainment and opt for board game nights or movies at home.

If you’re still facing a budget discrepancy, you may have to look for extra ways to earn money for the month. Consider selling clothes, furniture, and appliances that are in good condition but that you no longer use. Or can you pick up extra hours at work, or get a part-time job?

If you’ve blown your budget, the important thing is to pick up where you left off and get back to your budget as soon as possible.

Need help creating an organized household budget? Check out our budgeting guide and budgeting fillable PDF worksheet.

Article Source: Alexa Mason for Moneyning.com

How to Bounce Back from a Spending Spree

We’ve all been there. We intend to make a few purchases then suddenly we realize we’ve gone overboard with our spending. You may feel the urge to panic – but before you do, consider these tips for damage control after going on a spending spree.

Prioritize purchases
When the dust has settled and your panic begins to recede, start to look back over what you’ve bought. Are these things vital to your life, or are they all “extras” that you don’t necessarily have a need for? Sure, it’s fun to get new things, but if you’ve spent too much, you may need to think about returning some things to get your money back on track.

Get back on budget
Sure, you’ve gone over the limit, but it’s time to move forward and recover. Remember how you typically spend and if that’s been working for you, go back to your old ways. Don’t beat yourself up over what’s in the past. It’s time to regroup and remember your limits.

Plan to pay back
Stick to your original budget, but also consider ways you’re going to make up for the damage you’ve done to your wallet. If you’ve charged your purchases, now’s the time to dip into that debt repayment fund you’ve hopefully been saving up. If you shopped with cash, plan for ways you can trim your spending until your finances are where they were before your spending spree.

Reflect on patterns
Getting in this position every once in a blue moon is not cause for too much concern. But, if overspending and busting your budget is becoming a pattern, you need to stop and assess the issue. Is there a particular reason why you’re shopping/spending habits are getting out of control? Understanding why you’re behaving the way you are, will help you to make corrections and learn from your mistakes.

Need help with your budget? Check out our budgeting guide!

Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com