The following is a guest post.
If you’re crunching the numbers and are finding it hard to get ahead financially, it may be time for a savings plan. Though “budget” can be a four-letter word for most credit card consumers, it doesn’t have to be a struggle to save. Here are five real-world tips to help you pay all of your bills and still have money left over at the end of the month.
Learn the art of couponing. While you are on a quest to save money on the essential expenses, such as food and personal care items, you should consider making couponing a hobby. This old-school way of shopping has received a technological update, meaning that you can find many of the coupons that you actually need by searching online instead of sifting through dozens of pages of newspaper. If you develop the skill and remain diligent, you can actually reduce your supermarket spending by more than half, which can be a huge contribution toward your saving plan.
Make your purchases in cash only. Many new budgeters find that the real challenge isn’t only changing how much money they spend but also changing how they spend it. If you are addicted to credit card spending, try taking cash out of the ATM once a week to cover all of your important expenses such as food and transportation. You’ll be more prone to spend wisely since you are constantly thinking of ways to stretch that amount of money to make it to the end of the week. Or, if you find that you simply can’t live without the convenience of a card, consider pre-paid credit cards that allow you to spend only what’s in your account.
Shave your budget in several areas. As nice as it would be, there is no one area of your budget that you can eliminate to save money. Rather, you should try to save money in several areas to start seeing a real difference in your bank account balance. You can look for money saving deals on your utilities, for example, by bundling your services and getting them through one company. And you can also save on your transportation budget if you carpool or ditch the car keys in exchange for taking public transportation.
Set up automatic bill pay. One area where it may be too inconvenient to pay in cash is your monthly bills. Many consumers have set up automatic bill pay for expenses like their mobile phone bills, energy bills, or even their rent or mortgage. In fact, in some cases, you can save money by having an automatic debit set up. And it cuts down on the amount of stress related to your budget because you’ll never have to worry about scrounging to find the money for a past due bill.
Allow yourself a splurge within reason. Even though you are striving to save money, it’s important to maintain balance. The quickest way to lose your budgeting battle is to deny yourself of any entertainment. You can still go out for dinner every once in a while or enjoy a good movie, if you do it smartly. Online daily deals sites like Groupon are an excellent way to find entertainment options for a deep discount so that you don’t feel deprived.
Cutting back on spending doesn’t have to be a pain for you. Turn it into a challenge to find more money-saving habits, and you’ll be excited to see your progress each month.