Common Cents: Tips On Budgeting And Saving
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
You want the good life, but you can’t afford it, despite all those straight A’s and years of collegiate education. You’re also thinking that you’ve deprived yourself enough. No matter where you are in life, you can’t help but think of all those times you sacrificed in hopes of attaining something better and here you are (still) pinching pennies to make ends meet.
You’re not alone. Your tastes have changed, probably leaning toward the more mature, eclectic and extravagant, prices and cost of living have gone up, much more than your salary, not to mention that your know faced with more expenses that aren’t always about you. Your life has changed either because of living arrangements, marriage, divorce, a new baby, the decision to stay home with your child, changing jobs or any myriad of circumstances. Still, experts note, that with specific strategies, foresight can also be 20/20. By making wise choices and investments today, as well as cutting back on some “necessary” extravagances you’ll be able to afford more of what you want tomorrow.
Go With The Flow:
The biggest problem in budgeting is not knowing exactly how much you need to live on. Professionals point out the importance of establishing and understanding spending needs and habits. They emphasize keeping accurate records of how much money comes in and how much goes out, and how many of those expenditures are necessary.
They suggest not only tallying up your monthly income, but also tracking monthly expenditures. Do this by collecting all your bills, credit card statements, checkbook register, receipts (including grocery, gas, etc.).
If you haven’t maintained accurate records, you may have to be required to track every expenditure for at least a month before you can come up with factual figures. Keep records in a notebook or pad or use one of many available computer programs.
Divide you spending money into categories such a fixed costs (mortgage, rent, loans etc) and variable spending (clothes, food, entertainment, etc.) Fixed costs may remain non-negotiable, except for options such as moving to a smaller apartment, turning off lights, or refinancing your home, it’s generally easier to cut back on and manage your variable costs.
Once you’ve outlined your monthly expenditures and reviewed your spending habit, you can now assess how and where you can cut costs and save money.
The easiest way to increase revenue is to cut back on a lot of lattes. Consider making your own coffee and breakfast at home, as well as packing your own lunch. Experts encourage setting a specific amount you want to save each day or week and putting that amount in a “savings fund” each morning or evening. At the end of the month you’ll see just how much you’ve saved, and how much you would have spent. Place that money in and interest-bearing savings account or money market and learn to experience and enjoy some growth on your investment.
This Little Piggy (Bank): A Few Helpful Hints To Get You Started:
· Consider patting yourself on the back for a job well-done. Motivate yourself, with self-imposed incentives, but consequently have established consequences if you fail to meet your monthly goals. Make your reward something “small” but special that you eagerly look forward to and enjoy.
· Collect at least three months worth of bills and calculate how much you spend each month. Tally each category so that you can see the areas in which you have your greatest discipline, and those that post the most challenge as a financial expenditure.
· Evaluate your expenses and determine what you can cut back on. Some expenses are easier to reduce than others. Food and fun are the easiest. Utility bills require much more discipline and imagination. Consider closing the fridge door each time you take something out, leaving lights off unless absolutely necessary, shutting the heat or air conditioner when you are out or at work. Experts even suggest keeping a log of daily expenses.
· Pay bills, especially those bearing high interest, immediately and in full. Try to refrain from accruing interest charges or late fees. Avoid relying on credit for purchases. Use cash, and only purchase things you can afford.
· Make a decision about which costs and how much of each cost you would like to eliminate. Stick to your budget. Keep track of your spending and your savings; if you are fastidious and serious, you are bound to see some pleasing and positive results. When you reach you goal, indulge a little, but keep up the good work.
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Common Cents: Tips On Budgeting And Saving