So, we’ve already talked about making a budget and sticking to it. But what if, when you made your budget, you found yourself in the negative? How do you cut costs without paying bills late or making some major sacrifices? Depending on how much extra you need, it’s not likely as hard as you think. Here are some tips for making your money stretch just a little further:
1. Adjust your perspective
If you’re in the red now, it means that you are spending more than you’re bringing in. The first step is to adjust your perspective and expectations. Although that purse is really cool, you probably should buy groceries instead. Your friends might all be going to the bar, but it would be better to watch a movie at home. You don’t have to stop doing things, but reminding yourself that you’re broke will go a long way towards cutting those extra costs.
2. Use cash, not credit
While debit cards are very convenient, cash is really the best way to go. It’s easy to swipe a card and forget about it or simply miscalculate. With cash, there is zero question as to how much money you have left to spend, and you won’t be able to spend cash you don’t have. If you are really struggling with a budget, this is a great solution until you can build better habits.
3. Be prepared to say no
When you have no money, there are going to be times when you simply cannot do what you want to do. Whether it’s that cute pair of shoes or going out with the guys for a beer, if your budget is tight you need to learn how to say no. If it’s spending, that’s simple. However, when it comes to friends, prepare what you’re going to say ahead of time. An example might be, “I didn’t budget enough to go out right now” or something similar, instead of saying you’re broke.
4. Eat at home
You’d be amazed how much money you spend every time you go out to eat. Sure, you might take a friend or your spouse out only go once a week, but even if you only spent $20 (which is fairly average) then that equals $100 per month! That’s probably almost enough to feed the two of you the entire month! The same goes for lunches. Cut it down to once a month instead, and you’ll reap the savings.
5. Thrift shop it up
Rid yourself of the mentality that poor people shop at thrift stores, because it’s just not true. In fact, if you shop at thrift stores in the more upscale locations, you’d be surprised the quality of things you can find there for more than half the cost. I have found many items that even still have the price tags on them!
6. Accept hotter summers and cooler winters
You can save a lot of money simply by adjusting your heating and cooling. Instead of keeping it 70 in the summer, keep it at 75. In the winter, let the temperatures drop below 70 and simply put on a sweater when you’re cold, or take off your socks and put on shorts when you’re hot. Closing the curtains and insulating your living space can also help keep the elements out and save some money.
7. Shop smarter
Every time that you shop, you are going to run the risk of going over budget and buying more than you need to, so it’s best if you only shop once every paycheck. Before you go shopping, make a budget of how much you can spend and what you need, in order of importance. Then, as you shop, write down the amounts and add it all up before you get to the register (make sure to round up for tax!). This way you are sure to get things you need without breaking the bank. When possible, avoid adding anything that isn’t on your list.
Your turn! What do you do to help save money? Are you going to try any of these tips? Tell me in the comments below!