Now that the recession is almost over, (yes- I said it! It truly believe that it is if you think it is) here are some tips to get your budget back on track. Even though money may be flowing a bit more freely (or maybe even not so much) than it was before, we don’t want to get carried away. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past year it’s that no one can take care of my financial standing better than I can. Following these tips have helped me keep some extra change in my pocket, hopefully it can do the same for you!
1. Once you've paid your rent/mortgage and other big ticket bills, take out an alotted cash amount each pay period to use on your essentials. Be sure to give yourself a realistic amount to work with that includes not only your recurring expenses i.e. gas, food, etc- but also fun stuff like movie nights with the girls and your favorite restaurant's take out. Once you've used up your cash for the time period specified- you're done. Under no circumstances should you dip into your checking/savings account to replenish your funds until the next pay period. What works for me is to have three envelopes to work from- one for fun stuff, one for gas and groceries, and another for low- ticket miscellaneous expenses. This way I can always take a quick glance at how much funds I have left for each category. We all know that using our debit cards for everyday purchases can often add up to spending much more than expected. Having pre-determined cash amounts on hand eliminates the guess work and makes you less likely to overspend.
2. Don’t buy an item unless it is on sale or from a discount store. In this day and age, there is absolutely no good reason to pay full price for an item (of course there are some exceptions- like my future engagement ring! ). For every Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue, there is a TJMAXX and Marshalls. These stores have the same quality and brand name items that department stores have at a much lower price point. Yes, you will have to dig through the clutter and yes, you will have to deal with the crowds. However, the amount of money you will end up saving is definitely worth the slight inconvenience. If on-line shopping is more your speed, check out this link to hundreds and hundreds of promotional codes to all your favorite stores!
3. Start using the “30 day” rule for all of your big purchases. Want to buy a 52” flat screen TV or a new pair of designer boots? Implement a 30 day waiting period before you put up the cash. In many instances, by the time the 30 days are up, you won’t even want the item anymore. I often forget about the purchase midway through the waiting period (obviously it wasn’t that important to begin with, right?). By waiting before paying, you’ve given yourself the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing an unnecessary item. This can definitely add up to hundreds of saved dollars left in your account.
What other ways have you been able to cut your monthly costs?