Budgeting is a relatively easy thing, but sticking to your budget is another matter altogether. It may look great on paper, and all the numbers work out smoothly, but then reality doesn’t quite line up with what you’ve planned, or your will is overpowered by desire to break away from the plan and splurge a little bit.
If you have a hard time sticking to your budget, here are ten simple tips to help stretch those pennies.
1. Meal Prep
Fast food chains and other lunch restaurants are a great convenience during the work day, but they can be a drain on your budget. It’s a much better idea to prep your meals in advance so you can take your lunch to work every day. You’ll be surprised how much you can save per month by doing this.
2. Compare Insurance Companies
Insurance is a requirement for just about every aspect of life, but not all insurance companies are created equal. Some are much more expensive than others for the same coverage, so look for free insurance quotes from competing companies to find the best deal on your specific coverage requirements.
3. Avoid Excessive Subscriptions
Subscription services are exceptionally popular in the current market, and there are tons of options that range from food delivery, television streaming, music streaming, toiletries, common household supplies, and much more. These are great for adding convenience, but as with most things, convenience comes with a higher price. You should really only use subscription services that can’t be accessed through other mediums.
4. Make Sacrifices
It might be difficult, but sticking to a budget sometimes means giving up things that could be considered luxuries. Spend less going out for drinks or dinner with your friends, cut out unnecessary treats during the day, and eliminate things you can live without. It’ll hurt at first, but the savings can be tremendous.
5. Auto-Draft Savings
If you have a hard time forcing yourself to put money away, set up an auto-draft savings account that automatically takes a certain amount from your checking at specific intervals and deposits that money into your savings account. You might not notice the difference to your budget, but you’ll soon have a nice little cushion of savings.
6. Recognize Impulse Buys
Whenever you find yourself standing in the checkout line with an item you didn’t plan to buy, take time to ask yourself whether you really need that product. The answer is no the majority of the time. By taking just a brief moment to recognize when you are shopping on impulse, you can save tons of money.
7. Refurbish and Recycle
Most people instantly want to replace an item once it starts to get a little worn out, and they’ll especially want to replace something if it breaks. Instead of trying to work your budget to fit these extraneous expenses, focus on learning how to fix or recycle your current products. Find ways to improve your home without spending money.
8. Make Shopping Lists
People who have problems controlling their money should never go into a store without some sort of list of what they plan to buy. Without a proper plan, impulse buys can easily sneak their way into your cart. Shopping lists are great because they allow you to plan in advance what you’ll need for the immediate future, and they prevent unnecessary spending.
9. Use Budgeting Apps
Budgeting is something most people do either in their head or on the computer, but that system of budgeting causes you to neglect the budget during your daily life. Using a smartphone budgeting app keeps your finances right at your fingertips, and no one lets their smartphone out of their sight for too long.
10. Reward Good Behavior
Saving is hard, so it’s important to reward yourself when you reach certain goals. This doesn’t mean you have to splurge on the budget you’ve been so good about keeping. There are tons of ways to reward yourself without spending any extra money, like making a special meal or spending time doing something you particularly enjoy.
By: Angela Pattridge