Do you have anxiety attacks, just thinking about your finances? Do you even know where you stand with your income and expenses? Do you just cross your fingers at the checkout when you use your debit card or credit card and hope it does not get denied?
Then maybe it is time to bite the bullet and take the time to sit down and really get a handle on your finances. You do not need to be a high financier or have an accountant in your back pocket. You just need to come up with a simple system, to see where your money is coming in, and how much is going out.
Once you have that figured out, and you now see that your expenses are just too high, then here are a few examples of ways to tweak your budget, so that your lifestyle is not severely affected, and yet you can still save money.
1. Cell phone bills. If you also have cable TV, or multiple cell phones in the family, see if you can bundle them into a package. You will be amazed how much this saves alone! But you have to take the time and phone your provider, they don't tend to offer it, but if you ask they will do it. This saved me a hundred dollars a month and didn't affect my cell phone usage at all! I still used the same minutes, it was just all on one bill now, and they give you a "bundle rate"
2. If you keep taking money out of ATM machines that are not associated with your bank, then you will get charged fees. So whether you take out twenty or eighty dollars, you will most likely get a fee of at least $1.50 per transaction. Add that up over the month and there is a movie out or more! This is a waste of good money, simply for convenience. Figure out how much cash you will need per week, and take it out ONCE at your own bank, this could save you a lot.
Amazon Price: $18.95 $6.61 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 22, 2016)
Take Your Lunch to Work with a Awesome Lunch Bag
3. Bring your lunch to work, or your snacks or even coffee in a thermos. Figure out which daily treats you just MUST HAVE, and do something about the rest. If you don't want to give up that special latte first thing at work, then at least bring the rest of your days worth of snacks, lunches and drinks. Maybe look into sharing a coffee maker purchase with others at work.
4. Groceries. Try and come up with a simple menu for the week, and buy only what you need for this menu. This saves on wastage, and also money. Try mostly shopping on the outer aisles of the grocery store, as that is where the fresh foods are, such as produce, dairy, meats, cheeses etc.. the middle aisles tend to be more packaging. The more you can stay away from that the better. I don't know about you, but anything in a box that says it serves "4" used to feed my teenage son all by itself!. That adds up big time.
Amazon Price: $59.99 $39.00 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 22, 2016)
Use a Slow Cooker or Crock Pot
5. Dust off that crock pot or slow cooker. Throw some stew meat and lots of vegetables in the crock pot, with some water, and spices, and keep it in the fridge overnight. First thing in the morning, plug it in, then go to work. Dinner will be waiting for you when you get home. Invest in a crock pot cook book, you can make all kinds of dinners besides stew. Plus the aroma in your home when you get back from a busy day, and knowing dinner is pretty well ready is worth the extra effort.
The above five items are just a few ideas to save you money. None of them affects your lifestyle that much, and yet will put money back in your pocket.
So, if someone talks to you about tweaking a budget or saving money, and that was conjuring up visions of mac and cheese for the next month, and no TV, then get those visions out of your head.
Many of these expenses that are getting away from us, are little ones here and there that add up. The first thing people tend to do when they suddenly decide they are going to save money, is look at the bigger expenses. Not that this is a bad thing, but take a look at your daily spending. Those dollars and cents over the day and weeks add up big time.
They are just small enough to get under your radar but add up. Just like a leaking pool. The holes don't seem that big, but after a week or two, the level of the water is way down. You look at those holes, and look at the big pool, and you think, how could that happen!
When life gets busy, we tend to be crisis managers. We just put the fires out as they start. But if you can get pro-active with your finances, then you will be ahead of the game, and be able to have more say in what you spend your money on.