Everyone wishes they could have an unlimited bank account. Unfortunately, it’s time to get back in the real world. If we want something we have to work hard and earn it. Our goals and desires in life often come with a price tag attached to it and in order to achieve them we need to learn to budget our money. Yes, budgeting is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. More often than not, a substantial amount of our money is being spent on unnecessary expenses such as coffee trips. Uncovering these unnecessary expenses is the first step to learning how to budget and save your money.
1) Read your statements:
Reading your monthly statements will enable you to see exactly where your money goes. Add up all the unnecessary expenditures such as daily coffees, magazines, ATM withdraws and that expensive sandwich from the local deli that you could make at home for a quarter of the price. What’s the total? Compare that to the cost of making coffee at home, buying a hot flask, and preparing your meals at home. Ouch, it hurts right? Spending an extra 30 minutes a week prepping lunch meals and making a coffee at home can save you tons of money and give you more time to relax on your lunch break.
2) Analyze your bills:
Bills, unfortunately, are something that goes hand in hand with growing up and something you cannot avoid. However, how much you are paying for your bills is something you can change. Sit down and scrutinize every bill that comes through that door. Are you being over charged for a service you did not use? Do you really need an all inclusive phone plan? Does the A.C. really need to be on high when you’re not in the house? Stop paying more than you need to for these services and utilities by being more conscientious about your usage. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll save by opting for a cheaper phone plan, dropping those channels you never watch and turning the A.C. off when you leave the house.
3) Distinguish between luxuries and necessities:
Yes, I understand you want that new pair of shoes or the latest phone, but do you really need them? Be honest, the answer nearly always is no. Being brutal about what you actually need can reduce your monthly living costs drastically. Go one step further by cutting down on how often you pay for necessities such as getting a haircut every 6 weeks instead of every 4 weeks or by carpooling with co-workers to save on gas.
If you know you want to buy a new home, but you also want to take a vacation abroad, and purchase a new car, prioritize! Sit down and be realistic about what is top priority for you. Can you compromise on anything? Find a budget trip to a nearby state or visit friends and family? Do you really need a brand new car or could you settle for an older model that’s been lightly used for two-thirds of the price? Do you really need a home that has 2 spare bedrooms and space for an extra car in the garage? By compromising you may find that you can achieve all these desires within your budget.
5) Open a savings account:
Open a savings account and have a percentage of your wages direct deposited straight into that account. This way the money won’t be available for you to just spend at will and you’ll find you won’t even miss the money if you don’t see it. Aim for at least 10% of each paycheck to go into savings. But, make sure you still have enough to pay all your bills and living costs.
6) Shop around:
If you must make purchases that are not necessities then do your homework and shop around for the best price. Online search engines will help you to determine the best prices for what you are looking for. Go one step further by taking these to a competitor and ask them to make you a better offer. Save money on shipping by taking the price to local stores that offer price matching services such as Best Buy and Fry’s Electronics. The savings you make, no matter how small or big, will mean you are one step closer to purchasing that house, sparkling new car, or the vacation of your dreams.
Here’s the big one. Sit down and strategically allocate a sum of money for each bill and living cost. By doing this you will be able to see exactly where your money is going. You’ll also be able to tighten the strings on what you spend on each cost. Think about groceries: do you end up throwing away half the fridge by the end of the week because you shopped on impulse? Setting a budget means you’ll be more cautious to strategically buy your food shopping for the week. A great way to keep track of your budget is to use a personal finance and budget tracking app on your smart phone. JasonRPrice.com recently reviewed the best personal finance and budget apps to manage your money on the go.
By taking the time to go over your finances, living costs, and shopping around you could end up saving hundreds of dollars a month. Putting that in a high interest savings account for a year will earn you interest, improve your credit score, and help you buy that dream home. For more information on financing your next purchase contact Premier Mortgage Lending today at 702-485-6600.