Browsing Tag:

budget

In Budgeting on
July 19, 2017

5 easy ways to save money on the fly

Are you making saving a priority in your life? Or do you find it “too hard” or that there “just isn’t enough money to go around?” I know exactly how you feel, I have been there! For that reason, I have been thinking what practical advice that I could offer to help answer these questions. Here is what I came up with.

 

1. Set reasonable goals and stick to them

2. Make saving a monthly bill

3. Only spend what you have

4. Cut back on unnecessary expenses

5. Pack your own food

 

  1. Setting realistic goals is super important. Yes, everyone would love to save $10,000 a year, but is that actually reasonable? Could you actually make that happen? You need to set goals that make sense for you and your family. What goals work for me are different than what may work for you. Everyone is different. People make different incomes and have different expenses. Goal setting is completely personalized to what fits YOUR needs. Make sure to set reasonable goals and then of course, stick to them! Building a hefty savings account does not happen overnight.

 

  1. I suggest treating saving as a monthly expense. Make saving just as important as paying your mortgage bill, rent, or purchasing food. If you put your bills first, then whatever is left over at the end of the month will be your allotted guilt free spending money. My husband and I put our savings right into our budget. It is something that is routine and doesn’t change. We don’t make excuses and make it a payment that has to be met every month. Since we started doing this, we have been able to contribute a significant amount per month into my student loans (on our way to tackling all of our debt!!)

 

  1. By only spending what you have left over at the end of the month, you will not be accruing more debt or racking up a large credit card bill. This is where you need to be in control of your spending and know when to say no. I struggle with this myself, especially when there is something extra that I want to buy that month or somewhere special I want to go. My husband and I set a monthly allowance that we both have to spend on miscellaneous items. It’s simple, if you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.

 

  1. I think most of us can relate to this. If you were to make a list of your monthly spending, would there be things that were non-essentials? Things that you could have passed up or said no to? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you can’t have fun…but all in moderation. When you work hard, you should be able to spend your money. But I suggest being reasonable with your spending or splurges. Do you go to Starbucks 15 times a month? What if you cut back and only went 7? That would be an extra $25 every month just from cutting back on coffee. What else can you cut back on? Do you have a monthly gym membership that you don’t even use? Then get rid of it! Go for a walk or run outside. YouTube at home workouts. That would save you another $60 a month. If you are unsure if you are overspending in this area, write down a list of what you bought for an entire month. At the end of the month look over your list and decide what was necessary and what wasn’t. My husband and I do this every month. We keep track of our food receipts and our miscellaneous spending. At the end of the month we keep eachother accountable for our spending.

 

  1. It sounds so simple doesn’t it? This step alone can save you so much money. I know to many people who buy their food out everyday or order out every night. Do you know really how much you are spending on food every month? My husband and I are big on packing lunches, especially since we know how expensive food is! If you have a husband who eats as much as mine does, we would go broke if we didn’t pack our own lunches everyday.  Buying cold cuts at the grocery store will last you 5x more than the 1 sandwich you bought at the local deli for lunch one day. Make a list of what you like to eat and then go pick it up! Yes, it may require some food preparation late on your Sunday night…but the money you will save will be worth it. You will thank yourself later.

 

I hope you found some of these tips to be practical and helpful. Saving isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time, patience and even practice! Make saving a routine bill and then pretty soon it will just become second nature. They say that it’s so much easier to save when you are young, so why not take advantage of our time? What do you have to loose? All you have is money to gain!

 

In Budgeting on
May 26, 2015

Creating a budget that works for you

Over the past six years, since I have lived on my own, I have had so many different spreadsheets and budget plans. At one point in time I was trying the ‘envelope system’ where I kept all of my receipts and tracked my monthly spending this way. It worked for a while but eventually I got tired of carrying around a big bulky envelope with packed receipts (especially at the end of the month). Over time and trying out different things I finally I found the budget plan that has worked best for us.

Getting married and moving in together was a transition in its own way. Combining income and finances as well as each learning how the other dealt with money took some time. I am more of the ‘write it down’ and document your spending, while TJ is more of the ‘its online in our bank statement.’ Luckily we are both savers and are smart when it comes to our finances (so thankfully thats not an issue we have to deal with!) Over a few months time TJ worked with me and molded toward my way of keeping a real up to date record of our monthly spending. I included a copy of a sample budget in this post that is very similar to the one that TJ and I use. I hope it helps to inspire some of you who are looking to get on track with your budgeting skills.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 9.53.53 AM

^ This is an example of the budget system that we use. This is a two-person budget but if you are living off one budget you will obviously make the necessary changes.

First, you need to list down all of your monthly expenses. In the next column you will write how much each cost you per month (ex: gas $150/m) For the items that fluctuate you can put an estimated cost.

As you can see in column four, under February, I only have a few items listed. As we start to pay our bills during the month, I add it into our spreadsheet. This way TJ and I both know what has been paid already and what hasn’t. At the end of the month the whole column will be full.

At the end of the month I add up what TJ and I earned and enter that in the area labeled ‘Actual Earned’. After adding in all of your spending for the month, you will subtract ‘Actual Spent from Actual Earned’. This is what you have left at the end of the month to save or in our case, pay off our student loans!

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 9.54.05 AM

^ This part is not something required to include in your budget, it is just something I find helpful to keep a detailed track of. I like to see what months we spent more on food and keep track of our miscellaneous spending. For this section, I actually save my receipts. I enter them in next to the appropriate date (Ex: on the 18th I went to A&P and spent $18- I enter this in the spreadsheet on the day marked May 18). At the end of the month I add up our total for food, in this case $424 and add it to my main spreadsheet for food costs that month.

I always prepare a few months ahead in our spreadsheet so when the first of the month comes rolling around, we are all set to go!Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 9.54.21 AM

I hope that you found our budgeting system to be helpful! For anyone that would like a copy of this excel document, feel free to leave a comment with your email address and I will email you a copy that you can amend and apply to your own spending!

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