Today I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Pandora’s Deals about saving money while going green, and I’m excited to welcome Addi from Frugal Fanatic to The Happy Housewife.
Establishing a budget is a great way to pay off debt and save money, but it is hard to figure out where to start. Here are a few tips to help you create a budget that fits your income and lifestyle:
Pay with Cash
Paying with cash is an awesome way to maintain a budget. Not only does it help you control how much you have to spend but you cannot spend what you don’t have!
Using cash will also help with self-control. When you have a credit card you can easily buy something while thinking that you can just pay for it later. This also prevents you from having to pay interest on the items you are purchasing. I suggest trying to allocate a particular amount that you can spend each week on daily expenses such as food, groceries, gas, etc.
Look back at old receipts or bank statements to figure out how much you spend on each category and try to cut it back a little bit. This will help prevent impulse buying.
Tip: Choose the best times to separate your cash (preferably around payday) and place it into envelopes by
category. After a few weeks you can adjust the amount of cash in each category to fit you and your family’s needs.
Use Gift Cards
Another way to help you stick to your budget is by using store gift cards. This will help to keep your spending under control. If you find yourself shopping at the same few stores this is a great technique for you to try.
Allocate a specific amount to spend at a particular store and purchase a gift card for the amount at the beginning of the month. This way you cannot spend that cash on anything else. Also, you will not have to pay any type of interest on your purchases like you have to when you use credit cards.
Tip: Start off small. Purchase a gift card for a smaller amount and see how it works out for you.
Track Your Expenses
Do you know where your money goes? Understanding where and how you spend your money will do wonders to your budget. You may think that morning coffee or late night snack isn’t bad, but all the small items add up!
Tracking your expenses is a great tool that will help you figure out where you can cut back to help you build up your savings account. Choose a tracking method that works best for you. I prefer using a computer but a notebook will work just fine. Keep track of every expense you make. At the end of the month take a look to see where your money is being spent.
Some months may bring you unexpected costs or might overall cost more in bills so give yourself a few months to get a good average on where you are spending you money. Figure out where you can cut back… Snacks? Entertainment? Transportation?
Tip: Once you learn where your money is being spent, start to track where you have saved. Seeing your savings account increase is the fun part of tracking your expenses!
Organize to Stretch Your Budget
Lastly, a great technique to get a handle on your budget is to get yourself organized. Once you have an understanding on how you spend your money you need to get organized to make sure that you are paying all of your bills on time to avoid late fees and accrued interest.
Having an organized system will allow you to keep up on payment due dates and keep track of what have paid in previous months to prevent errors. Having an organization method can also help you to prioritize and define what expenses are a necessity.
Tip: Try using file folders for bills and expenses to keep them organized.
Hopefully these tips will allow you to maintain a budget to save money!
Photo credit: By RambergMediaImages