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=> Setting a Budget
Once you have checked where you are and noted where you want to go, it’s time to set a budget. When you set your budget, it’s important to think about your needs, your wants, and the future, which involves savings according to your goals and plans. This can be overwhelming depending on your issues, but keep reading because there is an idea for everyone so that you can not just make ends meet but also thrive.
* Determine Your Income – That’s the first thing you must figure out. Your income is not what your boss pays you or what you earn if you work for yourself; it’s what you have left over after all mandatory paycheck deductions like taxes and insurance. After all, you cannot budget what you do not have. Getting this figure right will really help.
* Add Up Your Expenses – This may take longer if you’re in debt or you have a lot of expenses you didn’t realize you had. The best way to do this is to open your bank account ledgers and write down your expenses for an average month. Be sure to note which ones are fixed or flexible, plus which ones are essentials and which are non-essentials. For this exercise, you can consider any contracts to pay something to be essential, since you cannot just stop paying even if it was frivolous at the time.
* Add Up Your Debt and Create a Payoff Plan – For your credit card debt and other revolving credit like store cards, add them up, note the interest you pay, and note the minimum payment due. Set up a payment plan to pay off the high-interest cards first while you pay minimum payments on the others. Then add that money into the payoff for the next card on the list.
* Create Financial Goals and Plans – What do you need money for in the future? Would you like to have the ability to retire early or at least at 66? Are you investing anything for those goals? Even if your only goal right now is to pay down consumer debt and eat healthily, that’s okay too.
* Use Software to Help – Some banks offer online software to help with budgeting. Check your bank’s online area for that software. If you cannot find something like that, ask your bank or credit union if they offer it because you may just not know where to look. Using your bank’s software will be beneficial since everything comes from that account.
* Check Up Daily at First – Once you set up your budget, do a daily check to ensure you stuck to it. For example, you may not think it’s a big deal that you impulsively bought that coffee today from the expensive coffee shop, but that can add up. Even if it’s just 5 bucks five days a week, by the end of a year that’s 1300 bucks. You could go on a nice vacation for that, or pay off a credit card.
* Be Realistic – When you are creating your budget, be realistic. Just because you want to go on vacation to Europe next year doesn’t mean you can. Just because you want to pay off $30K of debt in a year doesn’t mean you can. You can only deal with the reality of the money you have. Living within your means is a lot more satisfying than you think. If you want to be able to live differently, find a way to make more money.
* Find Money-Making Opportunities – If your income is too low to support your goals for the future, then you’ll need to find a way to make more money. You can do that in several ways today, from delivering groceries, to driving for a rideshare company, to having a garage sale. It’s up to you, but if you need to boost your income to have a good budget, then you are going to have to find a way.
Regardless of your current situation, there is a way to thrive. You may have to get real with yourself. You may have to work extra hard for a while. You may even have to do without right now and for the foreseeable future, but with the right goals and plans to reach your goals, you’ll eventually end the paycheck to paycheck struggle.
=> Spending Less on Essentials
When it comes to buying essentials like food, clothing, and paying the electric bill, it may seem like there is no way to spend less. However, there are actually many ways you can spend less on essentials if you are creative and determined. Let’s look at some different ways to do it.
Believe it or not, food is one of the places you can cut expenses and still eat healthily. Eating with a budget meal plan can also be fun.
There are likely resources in your local area to help. For example, in some areas, some organizations distribute food that would otherwise be thrown away for a very small price. In Tucson AZ, for example, you can get 70 pounds of veggies for only $12 every single month via Produce on Wheels. There is no income requirement, and anyone can participate.
Link – https://www.facebook.com/BorderlandsMarket/
You can also set up a meal plan based on the USDA’s Thrifty Meal Plan and save money too. You don’t need to eat meat at every single meal. You can eat well at a reasonable price without ruining your health, so that’s a good thing. Check out their meal plan and other budgeting information here:
The other thing you can do to save on food is to plan your meals in advance, shop sales, and use coupons. When you serve the meals, focus on ensuring everyone gets the right serving size, calories, and nutrition. One wasteful thing that most people do is making too large of servings – which of course costs more money but doesn’t make anyone healthier.
It really depends where you live regarding your utilities and what you may or may not be willing to do to cut the bill. One way to deal with utilities if you want to be sure you can run your AC when it’s hot and your heater when it’s cold, is to ask for “budget billing.” If you’ve lived in a place at least a year so that you have a record, you can easily get that set up. This means your bill will be the same every month, making it a lot easier to budget. It’s usually evened out twice a year.
The other things you can do is ensure that your home is insulated well so that the windows don’t have gaps letting air out of the house (and air into the house). Plus, if you look at your utility bill, they usually have tips right on it about how to cut costs. For example, the best time to run your dishwasher is to run it right before bed or after 8pm at night, when the power grid is not being overstressed.
Set the temperature a couple degrees off from perfect. Instead of 72 in the summer, set it at 74. Instead of 70 in the winter, set it at 68. This small change will not be that noticeable after you get accustomed to it. Wear more clothing in the winter, and wear lighter clothing and turn on fans in the summer.
The truth is that outside of growing kids, most people could go at least a year without buying any clothing. Unless you’re involved in a particular sport, you don’t need tennis shoes every single year either. Let’s look at a few tips to help you save money on clothing.
* Buy High Quality – Some types of clothing are an investment. For example, a solid suit, nice dress shoes, the little black dress. If you spend more on these items, they’ll last forever and always be timeless. Check the seams, the buttons, and the overall make to ensure the quality is good.
* Choose Classic Pieces – Don’t go for the fads in the high prices. Buy quality classic pieces on sale that are of high quality and value, then add a few fad items from discount stores to freshen up the wardrobe seasonally.
* Avoid Too Many Colors – When you buy anything, including a t-shirt, you should know what you’ll wear it with. If you avoid buying too many colors and stick to a color palette that enables everything to match everything else, you’ll save a lot of money, instead of trying to match something with that random sweater you just bought on sale.
* You Only Need One – There was a time that people had that one Sunday dress or that one thing they could wear to a wedding, a funeral, and a cocktail party with minor changes. When you think of investment pieces like that, you really only need one. You don’t need two little black dresses or even two pairs of the same jeans.
* Thrift – This is especially important for growing children. Children grow super-fast during certain ages, so there is no reason to spend a lot of money. This is especially true for baby clothing. Many areas have really great offerings for baby items, for example in Raleigh NC, Once Upon A Child has big sales for used items several times a year.
* Find Sales – There are certain times of the year that you should buy different clothing items, from coats to shoes, and it’s always off season. It depends where you live but if you pay attention, you’ll start learning when the best deals and sales happen.
The important thing to remember is that you only need the right clothing for the job. You don’t need more than one thing for each job. You can add little touches to the items to spruce them up without breaking the bank. Plus, if you’ve never budgeted before, you may already have more clothing that you’ll need for a while.Other Details
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