Some people are surprised at how quickly their paychecks disappear without a budget. Yet, the same people are often too free with their spending due simply to bad habits that they fail to notice the growing financial pit they are digging for themselves. Therefore, it is always a good idea to draw up a household budget and examine exactly where your money is going each month.
A Budget is a Valued Tool to Understand Your Spending
The easiest way to start saving is by understanding where your money is going by creating a monthly budget. The first priority is basic household living expense. Write down items such as food, clothing, shelter, utilities, transportation, grooming, clothes, and medical expenses. Next, jot down the extras like how much goes for entertainment, dining out, gifts, vacations, etc.
Now all that you have to do is write down your monthly take home pay at the top of your page. Add additional expenses to your list such as tuition, pet expenses, funerals, etc. Remember, you always need to save a little for a rainy day because the unexpected does happen like broken toilet, the car breaks down, gas leaks, water breaks, etc. that can sneak up on you.
2. Shelter (Mortgage Payment or Rent)
3. Medical Expenses
10. Dining Out
12. Credit Card Payments
After you determine your actual expenses for the month, you will see how much money you have left. Is there anything in those expenses that can be curbed down?
One simple way is packing a lunch for work instead of buying one. When you subtract around $7.00 a day during a five-day work week, you can return $35.00 more back to your wallet. Stopping at Starbucks for coffee may be delicious and convenient. Instead, try brewing coffee at home or using the coffee maker at work. Eliminating the daily coffee stop can add another $25.00 more to this plan. Bottled water is another extra expense. Take an empty water bottle to work and fill it up there will save you more money.
How many times do you dine out each week? Try going less will save you even more money.
Some Common Ways a Budget Can Curb Costs at Home
The kitchen is a good place to begin. Do you use paper towels? Some brands are so thin and weak that you waste more money trying to clean up from one job than others that may cost more. For instance, you can by a 12-pack of Bounty Paper Towels for $17.47 at Walmart, which is about $1.45 a roll. On an average, most of us use at least a roll or two a week. A monthly cost of $5.80 for using one roll per week doesn’t sound like much, but using two rolls a week is $11.60. Yet, the approximate cost of using those paper towels for the year is $69.60 (one roll) to $139.20 (two rolls) for the year, which is more significant.
Though disposal dish cloths may save you laundry, I use reusable microfiber towels that I can throw in the washing machine. The cost of laundry detergent is minimal. This saves you money besides shelf space.
Cable television is another expense that you may want to give a second thought. First of all, do you really sit down to watch those programs and how many of those are there? I know people that have cable television just because it was a package deal with their internet service or they couldn’t pick up any television programming in their vicinity without it. They didn’t necessarily sign up because of the programs.
This does not mean that you should deny yourself what you see on cable television. It just means that you can save seeing those programs maybe a bit later by checking your library. Libraries are a wonderful source of borrowing the latest movies and television series. I don’t have cable and watch the latest cable series and movies without the interruption of commercials from my local library. I recommend looking into your library and if they don’t have what you want to see, they often have a suggestion form or box to recommend a book, movies, DVD, etc. If you see the same programming just not immediately, think of all the money that you would save eliminating that expense of your cable bill.
I have a friend that has one internet service for the wife and husband, but a separate internet service for their daughter because she didn’t care for the service. This was a rather extravagant and an extra drain of money. One provider for that internet service would be enough and save them money.
Dry-cleaning expenses also can be reduced. Did you know that there are bulk dry cleaners where they charge a certain amount by the pound? Check your local area because this is much cheaper than a visit to a typical dry-cleaner.
Speaking of dry cleaning, you can launder some labels that you may think only being dry-cleaned. Usually, “dry-clean” on the label can be interpreted as it is best to dry clean, but the item still can be laundered without damage. However, “dry-clean-only” means the item needs a professional cleaning or will be damaged or shrink.
Look at Your Motivation for Spending
When glancing over your monthly budget, notice the gifts category. Perhaps, you work late and don’t spend as much time with your children as you would like. If so, maybe you buy them extra little gifts basically every time you go shopping out of guilt. Then again, maybe you feel buying someone a more expensive gift than that person gave you will help win them over personally, professionally, etc. Ask yourself the real reason and if it was called for before possibility downsizing or eliminating some of that buying in this category.
I have endless ways to save money. These are just a few ideas. How do you save money? Tell me what you do because I would love to know.