I used to believe that incorporating a budget into my expenses would mean leading a terribly boring lifestyle. After graduating college and accepting my first job, I feared that living on a budget would deem me a pauper and that people around me would think of me as pathetic. I didn't want to be known as “cheap,” “boring,” – or worst of all – “poor” by the people in my life.
I'm happy to report that those assumptions were wrong. At the time, I didn't understand all that was entailed in budgeting and after utilizing it, I learned that budgeting was about more than just saving money; it was about keeping your finances in control and thinking about your financial future as opposed to only living in the moment.
I've discovered that even the savviest of budgeters struggle to find new ways to incorporate more savings into their lives. I myself recently got into a savings rut and wasn't sure how to get back on track. Despite remaining on a decent budget, I was still spending more than I wanted to each month. A thrifty friend of mine suggested I try some of her ideas, and they have helped me immensely these past few weeks. I'm a big believer in sharing wisdom, so here are some of the highlights from her great tips and tricks.
Ask yourself this: Are you buying it just because it's on sale?
It happens to everyone: You walk into a store and see a red sale sign, you pick up a beautiful piece of clothing, try it on, and fall in love. Whenever this happens to you, stop and think to yourself, ‘Did I plan to come to this store and purchase this item?' By keeping your excitement at bay and questioning whether or not you truly need the item you want to purchase, you're able to develop a clear mind and rationale that you may have overlooked. If you think you can't live without the item, put it on a one-day hold and sleep on it. Chances are you'll realize you can live without it.
Use the Internet to find promotion codes
Most every store in the world has sales. In fact, I can't think of one store I have been to that didn't have one. Keep this in mind whenever you are purchasing items online, especially when it comes to using promotion codes. Before you purchase anything online, whether it be a new piece of artwork, a bottle of face wash, or a new floral loveseat, search the name of the store you are purchasing it from followed by the words “promotion code.” You may find that the store is offering free shipping, discounts, or even free gifts.
Pay your bills the moment you receive them
Along with everybody else in the world, I dread the moment a bill hits my mailbox. Yet I've found that once I pay my bills, I automatically feel more relaxed and calm. No, it's not something I want to do, but getting it over with makes me feel relieved. When my friend suggested I pay my bills right away, I thought she was crazy. ‘It's not due until the end of the month,' I thought to myself. However, this trick has really helped me in budgeting. Whenever I go ahead and spend the money I know I am obligated to each month, I'm better able to budget my expenses in shopping, food, and other areas.
Thoroughly plan your shopping excursions
Every two weeks I have an exclusive day to myself in which I usually go shopping and eat out. Sometimes I'll hit up a bunch of thrift stores and go to a cheap sandwich shop. Sometimes I'll go to more luxury shops, shop the sales, and go to a nicer restaurant. Either way, I always have a day to myself to escape and have some time alone. Oftentimes, I find these two days of the month are usually the ones where I go over budget. I'm not planning on giving up my “me day” anytime soon, so I decided to start planning my excursions. By setting aside a set amount of money I'm allowed to spend, I'm able to keep my finances in control on these two days. It might be hard sometimes, but by deciding to stick to my guns, I've been able to get myself back on track.
Even the best budgeters find themselves steering off the path from time to time. While a little wiggle room is always okay to have, it's important never to put yourself in a bind. See how you can incorporate these four tips into your saving routine.
This is a guest post by freelance writer and blogger Eliza Morgan. She enjoys writing about safe credit card practices for the everyday consumer. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.