Budgeting is something we all should be doing, but let’s be honest we don’t. We tend to think about the right-now moments rather than our futures. I don’t criticize living in the moments because I’m one for random trips and adventures. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you make. Here’s a few ways that have helped me stay in check.
- First things first: make sure you know where your money is going. Make a list of all your monthly bills from Rent/mortgage, cellphone, car insurance etc.. all the way down to the little things like Netflix and gym memberships. Take the total of income you get after taxes and minus the number you come up with for expenses. (get rid of the hulu account or gym membership if you haven’t used it in months). This is your extra money.
Example: Total Income monthly $1600, Total monthly bills $975, amount left over: $625.
- Extra money of course has to go towards gas, groceries and living needs. Set an amount of how much you plan to use in gas and food and stick to it. Subtract this number from your fixed expenses.
Example: Money after monthly bills: $625. Subtract gas ($120) and food ($300). This leaves $205 remaining.
- Savings- find a number you’re comfortable with and put it in a separate account. Starting out you can start low and work your way up when you’re more comfortable.
Example: Total amount left over: $205. Putting $25 into savings leaves you with $180.
- Spending- You now have successfully paid all your bills and put some in savings. You’re off to a great start. You can use this $180 on anything you want without worrying about paying your bills or feeling guilty that you are spending too much.
Now let’s talk about other ways that have helped me to spend less money.
One trick, which also helps your health, is cooking and eating at home. Maybe this isn’t for everyone, but for me I get comfort and satisfaction out of cooking a delicious meal. People who cook their own meals are less likely to overeat, a nice side perk leading to a healthy lifestyle. While low in cost, fast food can add up over time. For the cost of a few burgers a day you can cook at home for less with the added health benefits.
One of my favorite was learning how to love myself and spending quality time with me. This gives you a chance to experience what you truly love doing and hey some of those things might not cost you money. Think of all the times you’ve went out just because your friends were doing something they wanted to do and you didn’t want to spend the night alone. I did this and came to a point where I was spending money on things that I couldn’t really care less about. But when I learned to enjoy spending time by myself, I quickly realized that I didn’t always have to be surrounded by people. My favorite thing to do is sit outside, listen to some good old country music, enjoy the outdoors and possibly have a book in my hands. What does this cost me? That’s right, nothing but contentment. While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea it sure is a great way to unwind, and you just can’t beat the cost.
Having the mindset of someone who is broke also helps save money. When looking at something I want to buy I’ll often ask: do I really need this? This method plays a very important role in my budgeting. For one, if I tell myself I don’t have the money I won’t be tempted to go out and buy stuff I don’t need. Then, when I do cave in and go browsing I also end the trip with “do I really need this?” Usually the answer is “no.” However if I go a few months really wanting something and holding off, I will then make sure I have the funds and get something I’ve been wanting.
You’re probably thinking what the heck do I do for fun? Well, I enjoy exploring new places and it’s not as costly as you think. This, of course, depends on what you are travelling for. I’ve been blessed and have seen a lot of the United States for next to nothing, Why? Because I traveled to see and explore nature, random lakes, mountains, buildings, and small old towns that had such characters and stories. This doesn’t cost anything when you’re just using your eyes to enjoy things your memory can cherish forever. By changing the reasons I travelled I was able to see so much more than if I had simply saved for posh hotel rooms and expensive meals.
Hopefully you got something out of this! By following the first three points and spending your extra money wisely you can enjoy what life has to offer without suffering the stresses of worry about bills.