It is no secret that the cost of living is going up and, it will continue to do so. This means that many people are looking for ways to save money. Crucial to this goal is a budget that is accurate and strictly followed
Budgets are not easy however and, if you are new to budgeting, it takes time to learn how to do things properly. Luckily, you are not alone in your quest to save money, because we can help. Here are some tips to keep you on the right track.
Tip 1 – Pay Yourself First
You have likely heard this piece of advice time and time again, but that is just because it is true. You have to pay yourself first, meaning that you need to make saving a priority.
Some people have trouble saving money because they think it’s too hard or they don’t know where to start. But saving money doesn’t have to be difficult, you just need a plan.
Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account so that some of your paycheck goes into savings before you spend it on anything else. This way, you’ll have more left over for the things that matter most in life, like retirement or a new car!
The amount you save will depend on how much you net, after taxes, but most experts recommend saving 10 to 20 percent of this amount. If your check is 2000 dollars, you should be putting 200 to 400 dollars immediately into savings.
Tip 2 – Track Your Spending
Your budget only works if you are tracking where your money goes. Maintaining a budget is hard, and it’s even harder to stick to one when you don’t know where your money is going. Tracking your spending will help you identify the areas of your budget where you are overspending and not following the plan.
Your expense tracking should take place on several levels. Daily tracking should be done and then organized into the various budget categories like food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, etc.
Income is also something that should be tracked. This is easy enough if you have a salary or hourly job, but it might be more difficult for some. If you have a job based on tips, commissions or simply have a side gig things will be more difficult. In these cases, track your income over several months and then average it out to make your budget.
Tip 3 – Stick to Your Budget
Easier said than done, especially if you are new to budgeting. If you have trouble, there are several things that you can do to improve your budget compliance.
A budgeting app is an excellent way to keep track of your spending habits and make sure that you are not going over your budget. There are many apps out there that will help you with this task, such as the Mint app.
Another good tool is to use the envelope system. Place the money that you have to spend for each category into an envelope. Then, spend as needed with the knowledge that once the money is gone, it is gone.
Tip 4 – Shop Around For The Best Deals
When you are working with a budget, you can not spend as freely as you might like. This might mean making some sacrifices in what you are buying, unless you can spot some deals. Many budgets can be made a lot more tolerable, by simply making your money stretch further. You do this by looking for deals.
When it comes to finding the best deals, you should always shop around. There are many different websites that offer discounts and coupons. You should also consider shopping in-store because sometimes you can find coupons in stores and clearance items that you would not find online. Remember that while online shopping is certainly convenient, it does not always get you the best deal.
Tip 5 – Reduce Your Expenses By Doing It Yourself
Next to finding deals, reducing your expenses with DIY projects is the next easiest way to stretch your budget and make it easier to live with. Even if you think that you are not the handiest person, believe it or not, there are a lot of projects that even a novice DIY’er can handle.
1. Yard Care
Lawn care can cost anywhere from 200 to 300 dollars a month in most areas. This is money that you could devote to savings or use to make your budget more palatable.
If you are subscribed to a meal service or get takeout food often, you should learn to cook yourself. You can learn how to cook your favorite dishes by watching YouTube videos or reading recipes online, which will allow you to enjoy homemade meals for less money than you would spend on takeout food!
3. Home Improvement
You should be able to fix most things in your home with a little bit of elbow grease, some internet know-how, and some patience! Barring a major problem with your house, you should almost never have to hire a handyman to do anything.
4. Pest Control
Amazingly, pest control is also an easy DIY project. There are even stores completely devoted to providing you with the chemicals and knowledge that you need.
5. House Cleaning
Another wasteful expense if you are on a tight budget is house cleaning. Start doing it yourself and get 400 dollars or more back in your pocket. If you are not a big fan of cleaning, you are not alone. Deal with this by breaking your cleaning chores up into smaller tasks with a schedule.