You work hard all month, and once you have settled all your bills you wind up with an empty wallet. Does this sound familiar? In today’s world in which living costs seem to be constantly on the rise, it may seem like mission impossible to set some money aside, whether it is for a trip, the rainy days or simply for a sense of a more secure future. It is important and plain smart to have at least a little something in your savings account or personal stash, no matter what the purpose. You never know what the future holds and when you will need to tap into your savings. You do not have to start off big; a few dollars over a longer period of time can result in a very nice sum, so start with baby steps, one day at a time. Follow these tips on how to live more frugally and on a budget and become the master of money management.
When you receive your paycheck, immediately create a monthly budget and determine savings heads; creating an excel table is a great idea in order to follow your monthly expenditure, and then make sure you stick to it. Establish your priorities – rent/mortgage is number one, followed by utilities and groceries. Next, factor in savings for the future – you might want to build a new home later, perhaps with the help of interior designers, masons, plumbers, painters, woodworkers, and an Arizona roofer, if that’s where you’re at. You may also want to save towards insurance premiums, fees, medical expenses and more.
Once you have settled the priorities, create categories for transportation/gas, dining out, and finally – clothes, cosmetics and indulgent items. The items that are on the bottom of the list should not be purchased until the end of the month – they are not essential, therefore they can wait, and you will soon realize why.
If you put pen to paper and calculate how much of your money goes into takeout coffee and lunches at the office, the sum will stun you. Make a habit of getting up a bit earlier and prepare your own lunch and put on a fresh pot of coffee. Place them in a nice plastic container and thermos respectively, and bring them to work.
Not only will you save money on these items, but if you do not leave the office during lunch you will not fall into temptation to get that extra muffin or buy a shirt starring at you from a window on your way to your regular lunch place. The same goes for dining out. You have a nice home that you have made perfect, so why not spend some quality time indoors. Make your own meals, and have friends over for dinner or game night instead of going out and spending abundance on overpriced meals and drinks.
Whether you have been eying a new bath mat, a cool kitchen gadget, a pair of pants or even a new phone, all of these things can wait. Everything is bound to be on discount sooner or later, so always be on the lookout for clearance sales or daily deals in your favorite online stores and shops. You do not have to become the obsessive coupon collector, but keeping track of great deals is bound to save you a great deal of cash.
Once you do go shopping, impose two rules: create a shopping list and make sure you stick to it (and include items you know are on sale), and do not walk out the door if you are hungry. Studies have shown that people are prone to filling their carts with completely unnecessary items (and not just food items) when they shop while hungry. Stay feed – stay on budget.
Replace high-end with mid-range
If you want to feel joy at the sight of your savings account instead of disappointment, let go of high-end items such as designer clothes and pricy cosmetics. There are affordable brands out there that look just as good and stylish once you know how to put them together, and affordable makeup and cosmetics brands often have amazing dupes for those expensive ones – so amazing that you will not be able to tell the difference. The craving for high-end brands, whether they are clothing or cosmetics is all in your head. Try replacing them for a while and you will see that the hype is completely unjustified and your wallet will be grateful as well.
Sell, sell, sell
You own nice clothes, furniture and other items that you simply do not use anymore, and they are just sitting, collecting dust. The solution is simple – sell them. There are thousands of websites where you can sell your stuff, and this way you are not only saving money, you are actually making some.
Patience, take two
If there is an item out there that is just calling your name, and you want it so much it is the only thing you can think about – pace yourself. If you have followed all the steps, your excel sheet might surprise you pleasantly and you will realize that there is a bit of cash left for the indulgent item, and that is when you purchase it. It is understandable that for pure moral, you have to treat yourself to something nice so you do not feel like all your hard work results in being able to pay the bills and nothing more. You deserve this one thing, but just wait until the end of the month; the late gratification will make the experience all the more special.
Once you have mastered these basics, you will be ready to play in the big savings leagues. There are at least one hundred additional tips on how to fill that money box, so once you are done playing in the minors; you will be ready to step up your saving game.