Trim Your Budget
Practical Ways to Trim Your Budget
The most successful way to save money is to reduce expenses and spending. That’s just plain common sense, but many people don’t follow it. A person who wants to save money should always have a monthly budget. A monthly household budget will help you stretch every dollar and also help you avoid that “not enough money at the end of the month” kind of feeling. There are several practical ways in which a person can trim their budget. Some of these ways will require planning and investigation, but some of them are just overlooked common sense ideas that many people forget about.
Saving money each month can be difficult, depending on your unique financial situation, but it’s certainly possible for everyone to achieve. It requires discipline, due diligence, and hard work. Consider these following quick tips in order to cut spending and trim your budget!
- Tracking Expenses –
When a person wants to trim their budget it’s important that they identify where the money is going each month. Then, they can look at ways to cut non-essential expenses, thus lowering the cost of living, and then being able to save more money. By recognizing that it not just about cheaper purchases, it’s about living a more frugal lifestyle, a person can analyze and make changes to trim his/her budget.
- Curtailing Overspending –
While this may not be one of the largest saving areas, it is important and pretty easy to tackle. For example, how critical are the three sodas or snacks a day that you get while at work? Is the stop in the coffee shop on the way to work necessary? These types of questions will help someone make a crucial decision about money spending and they may think twice about these purchases.
However, saving money requires more than just asking the hard questions or thinking twice about a purchase. It’s important that a person makes a shopping list before going to the store. Using a shopping list is helpful, especially if the person is an impulse buyer or an emotional buyer. A shopping list is one of the surest ways of trimming one’s budget since it gives the person a clear idea of what he or she needs, and it can help eliminate unnecessary purchases.
- Reducing Utility Expenses –
When a person wants to trim their budget, analyzing their monthly utility usage comes in handy. The first step is to address the electric bill because it’s the easiest one to make positive changes too. For example, make sure you turn off and also unplug ALL appliances when not in use. In addition, a person should invest in energy saving light bulbs that are more efficient, because this could be a long-term saving strategy. While it may only be pennies a day, over a year or two, that really adds up to some nice savings.
How about trying to save money by saving water? A person should invest in a shower water flow reducing kit. It’s as simple as buying a low-flow showerhead. They are cheap, and it will start saving you money almost immediately. They work by reducing the water flow and the change is hardly noticeable. It is essential that the leaky pipes and faucets are repaired. That’s literally money going right down the drain if you have a decent sized leak. The most important tip about water saving is to never buy bottled water except on the rarest of occasions. Purchase an at home faucet water filter or a pitcher water filter like Brita and bring your own filtered water with you wherever you go.
- Spending Less on Food –
- Use customer rewards programs whenever possible:
Most customer rewards programs bring about some free and easy savings. At many grocery stores, they’ll automatically find a coupon for their customers and apply it. Using coupons should be a way of saving money with little to no effort. At many chain stores, the customer rewards program will result in discount certificates or “money off” coupons being mailed to the customer. For example, $5 off your next purchase which a customer can just hold onto until the next shopping trip. That’s a free five dollars right there!
- Joining a warehouse club like Sam’s Club or Costco:
The low cost of the yearly membership is normally made up in the initial first shopping trip with all the money you’ll be saving. They carry name-brand products and usually have better prices than the chain grocery stores on certain things. Just do your due diligence beforehand and research what you want to buy. Moreover, by not having to shop as often because you’re buying in bulk, you are able to stick to your budget by not being in the store every week and risking impulse purchases. Warehouse club shopping must be done with discretion in order to save money.
- Insurance saving –
One of the fastest ways of saving money is by reducing monthly expenses in the areas of health insurance, auto insurance, and life insurance. By getting a bid from contending companies that are incredibly competitive it can help a person save money and purchase a policy plan that is within his or her budget. You may be currently paying for some option you don’t even need. It’s a good idea to look at your insurance policies yearly to see if you can make any changes or cutbacks to possibly save you more money.
- Pay Yourself First –
Another step in trimming your budget each month begins with your paychecks. Every time you get paid, you will want to then “pay yourself first” by immediately putting some of your paycheck into an interest bearing savings account. When you don’t have your entire paycheck at your disposal just sitting in your checking account, you will always spend less than you have. Not only will you spend less, but you will most likely wind up saving more money, creating a win/win situation for your budget.
Another way to “pay yourself first” is to head to the bank and take out cash. Debit cards and credit cards make it far too easy to overspend. When you put the debit card away and only have a certain amount of cash in your wallet to spend, you become much more disciplined in your shopping habits. It’s a good way to see exactly how much money you spend every day.
- “30-Day Wait” Rule –
Take control of any impulse buying habits you have by placing yourself on a “30-day wait” rule. Forcing yourself to wait before buying will give you the chance to see if you truly can’t – or can – live without it. If you are a shopper whose impulse spending habits are triggered by the allure of a sale, don’t be alarmed by the 30-day rule. Stick with it! Sales always come back around, and in the event that they don’t, just remember that any money you saved over the last 30 days will allow you to spend more toward your next purchase.
The 30-day rule is extremely beneficial in helping you buy only what you need. All too often we get caught up in the moment and purchase things we don’t really need, which ultimately end up going to waste. Buying in bulk can also be problematic. Often times people buy items in bulk with the intention of saving money in the long run. However, when items from bulk purchases go to waste, not only have we not saved money, we’ve wasted that along with our unused items.
- Clip Coupons –
When you do make a purchase, consider the power of clipping coupons. Extreme Couponing is all the rage right now, but you don’t have to take it to the extreme in order to rack up some serious savings. Using coupons offers the obvious benefit of savings at the register, but searching, clipping, and printing coupons also give you time to slow down and really think about your purchases and whether or not you really need them, once again helping you put an end to impulse buying.
For more advice on budget management, contact Advantage Credit Counseling Service. The professional credit counselors at Advantage CCS will work with you to look at your monthly spending habits versus how much you make in order to set and maintain a budget that’s right for you.