No matter if you are living with your parents, with your boyfriend, husband, and with or without kids, there is always the same problem at the end of the month – how the paper money from your wallet evaporated so quickly, is there a little mouse inside who eats your bills every day.
I have read plenty of non-useful articles with advice on how to save money, but all the recommended tips were all about changing the complete lifestyle. People don’t want dramatic steps and methods. Actually, I truly believe that even small changes can make a positive difference in your budget.
Create Your Own Budget
On the web, you can find plenty of examples of how to make the tables with one column for each of the specific categories, such as: one for the net income, one for unbudgeted income, one for expected and fixed expenses, one for non-expected, and one for the savings. At the end, make one for the so called discretionary expenses – those expenses include items that are not necessary for survival, like travels, going to restaurants, to the cinema, recreation, etc. If you included all your monthly expenses, and the total expense is less than the income total, you are, then, managing your finances very well. If the expense total is greater than your income total, you will definitely need to prioritize expenses. And you should bear in mind that sticking to the budget is like keeping a diet. Maybe you won’t see the results in two months, but don’t quit tracking where your money goes.
Pay in Cash
It is interesting that people usually spend more when the pay with credit cards, especially when buying expensive stuff. The money withdrawn from the card doesn’t seem real, so you won’t see the difference in your wallet after you’ve shopped. Try to leave your cards at home and to carry only the specific amount of cash when you go to the stores and, whatever you do, don’t exceed the limit.
Eat at Home
Calculate how much money you spend on eating outside or on your everyday morning coffee in your favorite café. You can try to plan your meals at home weekly, instead of going to the restaurants or fast food places. It is better for your health, and in the same time, it will save you both time and money. Ask your mother how to properly store leftovers of food and the extra ingredients to avoid waste. In addition, eating less meat is good for your health and your budget as well.
Let Your Car Stay in the Garage
Gas and fuel prices keep going up every couple of months. Both your wallet and your body will be grateful if you go to the office on foot or by riding a bicycle. Or, perhaps, consider taking public transportation rather than your car. Reduce fuel or gas consumption whenever you can. When you drive, use a consistent speed. Avoid quick acceleration and hard braking.
Don’t take your kids to the mall, and never go to a store if you are hungry, tired, lonely, bored or upset. You don’t have to become a hardcore couponer, but it is always better to shop on the sales. Just make sure that you have prepared shopping lists beforehand and that you are not buying just because it’s on sale. Take your time to think it over in order avoid impulse shopping. Learn to live with less – do you actually need four mascaras in different colors or five stick deodorants?
Have Fun at Home
Sometimes it is even more interesting to make a movie night with popcorn and homemade cocktails instead of going to the cinema. Or you can always invite your friends over for a casual evening. If you have kids, you can spend some great time together reading books or playing games in the backyard. If you take them out, choose going to the parks rather than to the malls. When my daughter was little, I used to exchange toys with other parents, so I didn’t have to spend enormous amounts of money on new ones. Instead of paying a fee for the gym, try a group early-evening jogging or biking followed by coffee at someone’s home. In bad weather, exercise at home via some aerobics or a Zumba program on YouTube.
Become Energy Saver
It is not a secret that energy costs money, so don’t be inactive in making energy conservation a habit, it is a step forward with positive implications for both the environment and your wallet. When you shop for new appliances for your home, look and choose for the Energy Star label. Replace existing lights with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, because these kinds of lights use two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs, and last up to ten times longer. Large LCD and plasma televisions consume up about four watts when not in use, and if you unplug these items, you can save 120 watts monthly. That won’t change your monthly bill, but if every household did this, it would be great for the planet. When you heat or cool your home, check to see that windows and doors are closed, and don’t keep the doors on your refrigerator open for too long. A well-insulated house reduces the amount of money you spend on heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. Check your attic and your windows when it is windy, and consult the construction workers to find out how to improve the insulation. Strategically placed trees in your backyard can help in reducing your heating and cooling costs as well. During the summer, trees provide shade. During the winter, trees provide a windbreak.
It may sometimes seem that the small financial decisions each day do not have a big impact on our financial situation, but, in fact, every little thing does matter, because both the good things and the bad things add up over time, creating your habits and affecting the whole picture of your budget.