For many people, staying within your budget can be challenging. If keeping to your budget seems like an insurmountable task, you’ll be happy to know that there are ways to stretch your budget and still enjoy a quality lifestyle.
Some budgets may work well with your lifestyle, while others may not. If you find that one technique is difficult, all is not lost! Other techniques may be a better fit, which can then lead to the financial freedom you desire.
Consider the following tips for staying within your budget:
1. Put Your Credit Cards Away. You can even freeze your cards in water if it’ll deter you from using them! It’s so easy to forget the true costs of the things you buy when you just swipe your card. Don’t feel guilty about falling for this trick; the easiest way to combat it is to keep your cards hidden away. Only bring them out when they’re truly needed.
2. Make Envelopes. Grab a stack of envelopes, mark each one with a designated expense, and put in your allotted allowance for each expense. It’s easy to stay on track when the money for your bills is pre-counted and away from reach.
3. Use Cash. It’ll help you see the true value of what you’re spending if you only use cash. If you don’t like handling money, you could opt for using your debit card. Just remember to stay on top of your balance so you don’t overdraw your account.
4. Cut Back. Believe it or not, there are usually ways you can cut back without even feeling much of a difference.
* Take some time out of your weekend to call up the cable company, the phone company, or your cell phone company. Discuss different lower cost plans. Maybe you don’t use all of your cell phone minutes each month or perhaps you can live without HBO.
5. Grocery Shopping. There are certain luxury items that some people opt to place in their budgets, while others won’t. However, a grocery bill is something that everyone shares. Analyze how much you spend each week at the grocery store and see if you can bring down the average amount.
* Coupon clipping and warehouse shopping are great places to start.
6. Budget for a Splurge Item. Treat yourself to something special every once in awhile while still staying in your budget. While you may not be able to afford it too often, you can save up some money for a special treat for yourself.
* It may be something you’ve been meaning to get or maybe you just want some money to hit up the town or go to a movie. The point is, if you’ve budgeted for this it won’t be a shock when you balance the books later.
7. Homemade Gifts. There are always many holidays throughout the year where you’re expected to deliver gifts for your loved ones. If you’re tight with cash, don’t forget about homemade gifts. These gifts are most often considered more thoughtful than anything you could have purchased.
* For example, make a scrapbook or photo album. While there’s some cost involved, the finished product will be priceless – yet far less than the latest gadget.
If you’re still having trouble balancing the budget, it’s important to keep trying new things until you have a system that makes you feel comfortable. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A financial planner or financial counselor can give you even more valuable ideas.
With the right techniques, a budget can be the tool that brings you freedom!