Staying Strong and Budget Conscious
While money was made to spend, it was also made to save. A budget forces you to not only live within your means, but live below your means. It allows you to save money towards your future and serves as a safety net when unexpected expenses arise. While some people budget to avoid living paycheck to paycheck, others budget to save for long-term goals, like putting a down payment on their first new car.
While creating a budget can be easy, sticking to that budget can be harder. The truth of the matter is, if no one can force you to make your bed or take out the trash, who is going to force you to actually follow your budget? Sticking to your budget takes self-discipline and the only way you can stay true to your budget is having worthwhile reasons as to why saving is important to you. If you are trying to stay strong and budget conscious, you are going to need to develop a new mindset when approaching your finances.
Focus on the Bigger Picture
The secret to sticking to your budget is truly wanting to stick your budget. This means setting goals that you would like to achieve as an incentive to put a certain amount of money aside every paycheck. This is dependent on what you want out of life or for the future of yourself and your family. You may be sick of breaking even on bills every month or you may want to open up your own restaurant one day. Perhaps you would like to live a comfortable retirement on the beach or pay for that cosmetic procedure you have always wanted.
Create short-term and long-term goals for yourself that you can work towards and always remind yourself of them when faced with the impulse to buy something you don’t need. The bigger picture is achieving the financial stability and success that will allow you to accomplish these goals. Utilize your online resources and sign up for websites and apps, like Mint and You Need A Budget, that help you budget and keep track of financial goals. Mint is a personal finance app that allows you to review your finances all in one space including your bills, credit score and budget. It allows you to create short-term and long-term goals and tells you what you need to put aside every month to achieve them. Furthermore, it tracks your spending habits and gives you advice on how to stay on track.
Understanding Wants versus Needs
What do you really need? A roof over your head, a form of transportation, enough food and water on the table, basic healthcare, hygiene products and appropriate clothing? Check, check, check! Once you can provide these things for you and your family, you can have enough money to put towards the future. Except, what happens when you want a house that has a pool or clothes that are name-brand? It is important to distinguish between the things you want vs. the things you need. Yes, you need to buy sweaters for the winter time but do they really need to be cashmere?
The trick is finding a balance between the two. Part of our happiness is enjoying things like entertainment and travel because creating experiences for ourselves is what we will remember forever. But if we are constantly spending our money on material things, will we ever get to enjoy these moments with our loved ones? Now, this does not mean you have to deprive yourself of things that make you feel good. It means you need to be realistic as to what is really important in the future versus what’s important to you in the moment. Trim down on spending towards your needs and your wants so that you have enough money to fulfill the two.
There are so many ways you can get creative with saving and making money. Have you ever tried couponing? You can save hundreds of dollars a month by dedicating your time to finding the best coupons for your favorite products or stores. It can be fun finding great deals and matching coupons with sales or doubling your coupon’s discount offers on double-coupon days held by your local grocery store. There are even apps, like Ebates and Ibotta, which allow you to get cash back while shopping in store or online.
Other ways you can save money is by carpooling with coworkers to work or taking advantage of free fitness classes offered in your community. Cancel your cable service and consider sharing streaming accounts with friends and families to watch your favorite television series and movies. Check the local newspaper or the internet for free events happening around town, like a concert at your local park. There are always free or inexpensive things to do like going to the beach with friends or staying home to watch movies and ditching the movie theatre. This way you don’t have to sacrifice your social life when budgeting how much you spend out on the town.
Furthermore, finding ways to make more money by doing the things you like can provide you with the extra cash needed to save towards your goals. Have you ever considered turning your hobby into a side hustle? If you love yoga, consider becoming a yoga instructor and teaching classes in the evenings. Make amazing cupcakes? Share them with others and sell them at food truck events. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.