Sometimes budgeting is hard. It’s hard because it shows us areas we should cut back on and how our overall spending is affecting our goals. It challenges us. But it doesn’t have to suck all the fun out of your life. Here are some tips and tricks for saving money and budgeting wisely.
Divide your money into envelopes.
This is a corner stone of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace classes, and for good reason. Many people have trouble budgeting because they spend much more than they think they do. This method tackles that issue head on. Divide up your money for the month into categorical envelopes. So you’ll have one for gas, one for groceries, and so on. Pay for every purchase with the cash out of that envelope. It might be a bit of an inconvenience, but it’s a great way to wrangle your spending.
Create New from Old
Instead of heading to the mall the next time you find yourself wanting something new, consider upcycling the things you already have.
If you are a shopper, you probably get a thrill from owning new things. However, with all the new stuff that comes into your life from shopping, you are likely getting rid of plenty of stuff too. Instead of heading to the mall the next time you find yourself wanting something new, consider upcycling the things you already have — and would have gotten rid of — into new and unique items that don’t cost a dime.
For instance, if you are wanting a new look for your living room, consider taking that old bedside table you have, painting it, and making a dècoupage work of art on the top surface using some of your favorite pictures. Put this new piece next to your couch to give your living room a new feel.
Find Free — or Inexpensive — Entertainment
Sure, we all love to go see concerts, movies, and plays, but those things are pricey and should be reserved for special occasions only two or three times a year. That said, there is no reason you need to sit around the house feeling bored on a Friday night.
Instead, find free entertainment in your community. This can mean going to see a movie screening at your local library, listening to live music at a coffee shop, or ushering a community theater performance in exchange for a ticket.
Another option is to keep it inexpensive by doing such things as visiting the skating rink on dollar night or getting rid of cable TV and using the much more affordable Netflix instead.
Look hard enough, and you are sure to find a wide variety of things to do every weekend.
Calculate long-term savings.
Find something unnecessary in your budget and calculate how much you would save in an entire year if you didn’t spend any money on that thing. This helps put your spending in perspective and can really help motivate you to cut back in some areas.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry…At Home
Eating out is often the culprit of budgeting hardships. Don’t worry though, you can still have delicious meals and company while you dine. A quick online search will reveal an enormous variety of delicious recipes you have never tried. All you have to do is buy the ingredients, create the dish, and invite some friends over and you’ll have the perfect dinner at home.
To add to the fun, ask each friends to bring a side dish, dessert, or bottle of wine to share with everyone.
How to Make a Budget and Actually Succeed
Add a little excitement to your budget planning with the ideas above. It will help you stay motivated and make sticking to your budget a little bit easier.
Do you have some tricks that help you stick to your budget? We’d love it if you would share in the comment section!
Need tips on how to make a budget? Check out part one of this series.