Are you sick of living paycheck to paycheck and never having enough money at the end of the month?
This is a common problem for millions of Americans. often due to low wages, high debt, and the rising cost of living.
Your odds for winning the lottery or being left a large sum of money from a long, lost relative are slim. So, we are going to take a look at some budgeting tips and tricks for when you really need to stretch your last dollar.
Keep reading for more information!
1. Create a Budget Monthly
Create a list of all household expenditures. These will include your weekly trip to the coffee house, groceries, electricity, and dance lessons for your daughter.
You will also need to look at your take-home pay and any other sources of income.
Once you have your income and your expenses laid out, begin tracking your dollars. Yes, this includes the candy from the check-out line or the moisturizer you couldn’t live without.
A budget doesn’t mean you must get rid of all your small joys—it just means you know where your money is going. It also makes it easier to reach financial goals.
2. Credit Card Repayment
Credit cards are a great tool to help build credit and allow for the purchase of major items. Unfortunately, the way credit card companies make money is by charging you interest on your balance every month.
While there are several techniques to paying off credit card debt, the one that makes the most sense for your finances is the debt avalanche. List all your debts (other than your mortgage), starting with the highest interest rate first.
Each month, make at least the minimum payment toward each debt and put any leftover money on the balance with the highest interest rate. This method allows you to pay down the principal faster, saving you money on interest.
3. For Single Parents
Being a single parent is tough and in an ideal world, everyone would pay their share to take care of the kids. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Child support falls by the wayside, with one parent paying far less than they should.
Use a child support calculator to determine if you are receiving enough help each month.
On the other side of this, double check to ensure you are not paying more than you can afford each month with your income.
4. Pay Cash
Once you break a $20 bill, it seems like it’s gone in no time, right? However, using cash makes you more mindful of how much you’re spending and on what.
Whether you are using a credit or debit card, swiping plastic doesn’t feel as ‘real.’ This makes you far more likely to spend more than you intend, potentially leaving you with a large hole in your budget.
5. Check Your Insurance
There are so many types of insurance available—home, life, auto, health, dental—you get the picture. Each of them cost money every month, regardless if you use them.
We aren’t saying you should go out and cancel any of your policies, but it’s worth shopping around for the best rates.
If you are finding that payments are difficult to make, especially on something like life insurance, it may be time to find a better plan or reduce your policy for a time.
6. New, Used, and Beater Cars
Vehicles have become a status symbol in today’s world. New, high-end cars have all the cool capabilities and the advertisements make you believe you MUST buy it now.
It’s a well-known fact that new cars depreciate as soon as you drive it off the lot. While this is also true for used vehicles, the value doesn’t drop quite as quickly. Therefore, if you are in the market for a vehicle, opt for one that is a few years old.
If you are lucky enough to have a vehicle that does not include a note, try to use it for as long as possible. Even when you are considering the cost of repairs, it is still likely to be less expensive than payments and insurance on a brand new car.
7. Cook at Home
Sure, fast food is convenient and means no mess to clean in the kitchen. Unfortunately, the trade-off for this choice means a higher food bill at the end of the month.
When you choose to cook at home, you can opt for groceries that cost little and stretch far enough for extra meals. The key to saving money by cooking meals at home is planning, creating a list, and sticking to it.
You can limit the number of items on your list by taking into account what you are cooking for the week. Additionally, stock up on groceries and spices that have a long shelf life and can be thrown together in a pinch.
8. Exercise—Without the Gym
Exercise keeps your body healthy and can minimize injuries from everyday tasks. But unless you religiously use your gym membership or attend the group exercise classes you pay for, it’s time to cancel them.
Opt for a set of weights, a yoga mat, and online instructional videos instead. Or take Fido out for a long jog; he’ll enjoy it, too!
9. Skip Commercial Holidays
Holidays like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s have all been created to get you to spend money.
While these days are important to acknowledge loved ones, opt for quality time and a homecooked meal instead.
10. Lower Service Costs
Years ago, there was little competition when it came to cell phone, internet, and cable services. Not anymore.
Negotiate with your cell service provider for better rates, consider canceling cable in favor of streaming services, or opt for slightly slower internet speed.
Budgeting Tips and Tricks: Always Look for a Deal
The best way to stay within your monthly budget is to always be on the lookout for a deal.
If you can’t seem to find the price you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to ask. Many major companies will negotiate rates or price-match to keep your business.
We hope you can implement some of these budgeting tips and tricks into your financial life. If there is anything we missed or that you would like to add, be sure to leave it in the comments!