A spreadsheet from a budget makeover.

7 Week Budget & Money Makeover

Budgeting can be difficult, specially if you are someone who is used to spending with wreck-less abandon. If you are finally ready to get your budget in shape, here are 7 steps that you can take over the next 7 weeks to get your budget in order.

If you are someone that is not used to making financial sacrifices, getting your budget in shape can be very challenging. This is why it might benefit you to take things slow. Below are 7 steps that you should take, once a week, to get your budget and your money in line.

Week 1: Handle That Cable Situation

Cable and satellite television are expensive and they have the habit of getting more expensive year after year. These companies do a fantastic job of luring you in for a cheap rate and then nickle and diming you to death. Before you know it, you have a cable bill which is well in excess of $200, and that is a real problem. In week one, you will finally handle the cable or satellite issue.

Ditch It

The best solution to that hefty subscription television bill is to cancel your cable or satellite completely and finally go streaming. Streaming television has changed the way we view entertainment. With streaming services, you get TV and movies on demand, allowing you to take in your entertainment on your terms. In addition, you can do it for a fraction of the cost of cable. While the average cable bill is over $100, most streaming services are under $10 and some are even free.

Go Basic

If you can not bear to make the switch to full time streaming, downsize that bloated cable or satellite package. Switch to the rarely advertised “base” package and save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year. How many channels do you really watch anyway?

Week 2: Switch To Prepaid Cell Service

There are two main differences between your “premium” cell phone service and a prepaid plan. First, you pay for prepaid service at the beginning of the month instead of at the end. And second, prepaid service can be up to three times cheaper than your “premium” plan.

Besides those two differences, the level of service is nearly indistinguishable. In fact, those prepaid services even use the same towers as the big carriers. That means that their is little reason to keep paying as much as you are.

Switching Service

Making the switch to a prepaid carrier is incredibly easy and you can even port your number to the new provider. In most cases, you will also be able to bring your high end phones, but do not expect to be able to subsidize a replacement. The one catch is that you will have to pay full price for a replacement phone in the future. This is not a huge deal because you will save more than enough money on cell service to make up for the difference. Besides, most carriers have stopped subsidizing phones anyway.

Week 3: Shop Your Insurance Policies

Like a lot of companies, insurance carriers bet on our complacency. They know that most people will just stick with their insurance company, even when the rates go up at every renewal.

Go Shopping

Take the time to get fresh rates for your auto insurance, home owners insurance and even your renters. Ideally, you should be doing this every time they renew, but go ahead and do it now.

What you will likely find is discounts that only new policy holders get. Take advantage of these discounts, but be prepared to switch companies at your next renewal. It is a hassle, but it can save you hundreds of dollars each term.

Prepay

Another way to save is to go ahead and pre-pay the entire term. Most companies will provide a significant discount for doing so and even if they do not, you avoid monthly service fees.

Week 4: Get Healthy At Lunch

For many, fast food is a staple at lunchtime, but it comes with many consequences. The immediate consequence is the high cost, especially with supply chain issues driving up the average meal price to close to $10. Another more serious cost, is to your health.

Brown Bag It

Start bringing your lunch to work and get healthier while putting $200 or more a month back into your pocket. Just be careful to do things the smart way. Tuna fish sandwiches and chips will only keep you satisfied for so long.

Take some of that money you will be saving an invest in a variety of healthy foods to keep from getting bored. Instead of a basic sandwich on Wonder bread, use artisan breads and add unique toppings like mixed greens and gourmet cheeses. Also, keep in mind that there are other options like salads, pasta, pitas, soft tacos, etc. You are only limited by your creativity.

Week 5: Learn To Plan Your Meals

Lunch is not the only meal that you can save money on, if you take up meal planning. If you have not heard about meal planning, it is a fantastic tool that saves you both money and time. Here is how it works.

Basics Of Meal Planning

First, you decide which meals that you want to serve during the week and you write them down. Be sure to include every meal and do not forget about snacks.

Next, take your menu and write a list of all the groceries that you need to make your meals. Be sure to check off anything that you may already have in your refrigerator or pantry.

Finally, use your list to purchase your groceries without buying unneeded items, items that may have ended up spoiling. Considering that most Americans waste 20 percent of the food that they buy, the savings potential with meal planning is substantial.

Week 6: Sell Your Toys

Kids are not the only ones with toys, adults have them too. The only difference is that the toys adults buy can be much more expensive.

Repurpose That Money

Consider how much you really use these toys and then sell the ones that you really do not need. Are you still taking the boat out? Does that stand mixer have an inch of dust on it? Sell your toys and repurpose the money for something more productive.

Perhaps the best use for that money is establishing an emergency savings account. As an adult, you should have 3 to 6 months worth of expenses in savings. How does your account look?

Week 7: Plan To Eliminate Debt

By week 7 you should have started to realize some substantial savings. With this extra money in your pocket, you have what you need to finally get out of credit card debt, but you need a plan.

Make A Plan

A plan of attack will help you stay on task with credit card debt reduction. Credit card debt can seem overwhelming, which is why it is best to take it one card at a time.

Organize your credit card accounts and order them from highest interest to least. Take the highest interest card and pay as much as you can on it. Make paying off this card your goal and just pay the minimum on the rest of your accounts. As soon as you get that card paid off, slap yourself on the back and move on to the nest highest interest card. Rinse and repeat until you are debt free.

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