Have you seen the emoji of the money with wings? Unfortunately, that was my money situation my whole life. My first job was waiting tables, and I made dang good money, but because it was instant cash in hand, my mentality was, I will just make more tomorrow. Looking back, I could kick myself because if I would have been savvy, I could be sitting on a decent nest egg now. I guess it’s better late than never, so I finally cracked down and got down to brass tacks to see how I could finally take control of my finances.
You need to make a budget because, like me, you’re probably spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on things you don’t even realize. For instance, let’s say you spend around $10 a day on eating out and your morning java addiction; if you do this five days a week for 52 weeks, that’s $2,600! There goes the vacation fund. If you’re tired of the paycheck to paycheck scenario, check out the following budgeting tips & tricks.
List Your Bills & Debts
If your old fashion (like me) grab a notebook, a pen, and create a list of your monthly bills and a separate list of overall debt. If you decide to, you can create a spreadsheet in excel or google suite and type it up instead or have a clean copy to print. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Write down every single thing you pay monthly; utilities, groceries, gas, subscriptions, rent/house payment, etc. Total up all of your bills and subtract that from your monthly income. Hopefully, you will have some cash leftover to begin saving 10% of your weekly pay & start an accelerated debt payoff plan.
Pay Bills Ahead of Time
I can’t tell you how much money I wasted because I forgot to pay a bill. Credit Cards are the worst because they have high late fees and no grace period for your payment. Usually, a late fee can be $27-$35 if you pay late every month; that’s $324-$420 per year wasted! Rather than tossing your bills in a pile, make a command center in an area that you won’t forget to pay. The best practice is to pay as soon as you receive it, even if it’s a few weeks before it’s due. This will reduce late fees, which saves you money; and also reduces your stress levels because you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to pay your past-due bills.
Eating in vs. Dining Out
I can honestly say this is where all of my cash flow was going. I ate my money; well, so to speak. When my husband and I ate out twice a day, we were spending an average of $25-$35 per day. We weren’t even eating at fancy restaurants-mainly take out and fast food. However, it was a real wake up call to see a daily expense of $25 on a quick meal equaled out to a whopping $6,500 per year! Ouch. It’s not even that it tasted that great; it was just a convenience issue. If you get savvy grocery shopping and prep your meals ahead of time, you can save thousands of dollars and have more time in your day.
Subscriptions, Cable, & Memberships
Subscriptions, Cable, and Memberships can rack up cash fast. It’s even worse if it’s something you signed up for and don’t even use anymore, but keep forgetting to cancel it. Reduce your cable bill by getting a cheaper package. Do you use your gym membership? Maybe you can grab some equipment and work out at home instead. Downsize your subscriptions if possible. Really think about if you can justify the expense or not. It’s time to trim the fat and slash everything possible to save money. Put that extra money in a savings account or towards your debt.
It may take some time, but if you get savvy about your shopping process, it can save you a decent amount of money. Some things are cheaper if you buy in bulk, things like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, canned goods, etc. You can also shop at stores like Aldi, Sharp Shopper, and the Dollar Store to get lower prices on groceries and accessories. You can also sign up for store savings cards like MVP at Food Lion or Bonus Card for Martins.
Another excellent way to save money is coupons! You can clip but also go to your grocery stores website and load up your cards with specials before you go. Be sure to make a shopping list and stick to it. This saves a massive amount of money and time. Stick with your list and don’t wander around looking, that’s where you get in trouble with impulse purchases.
By taking these action steps, you can take the reins of your budget, dig out of debt, and start a nest egg. Be sure to start with your list of bills & debt, so you know where your money is going. Pay bills ahead of time to avoid paying late fees and higher interest rates. Eating at home instead of eating out will save significant money. Cut out subscriptions and memberships that you don’t need. Try contacting your cable company and reducing your package to a more affordable rate. Get savvy shopping for groceries by couponing, buying in bulk, and using store rewards and savings cards.
Basically, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. I have ridden the finance roller coaster for a long time now; having a budget increases your cash flow and decreases your stress levels. Don’t forget to grab your Free Budget Tracker before you go!