Guest post written by fellow blogger Valentina Wilson. Valentina is a personal financial blogger. She loves to analyize personal financial matters and help others manage their finances in a better way. Traveling is also her passion and she loves to spend her free time exploring different places. To connect with her, go to her Facebook / Twitter or visit Bestdebtconsolidation.org. Valentina Wilson has been a blogger for the past 6 years and has started her own blog around 2 years ago. Presently, she is residing in Hadley, Massachusetts.
No doubt, saving money is worth the effort! It gives you peace of mind and you don't need to lay awake at 2 a.m. thinking about how you will afford the things you need! As you begin to consider budgeting, saving money becomes super important! You should be saving for rainy days, retirement, sinking funds, etc. You can also save for a long-planned vacations, a new car or anything you wish to acquire that is affordable!
As you accumulate a nice nest-egg, your financial worries are likely to be reduced. But saving money for the things you aspire to acquire is a tough ordeal, especially when you are on a tight budget! So you need strong will power and the ability to follow some strategies to save money, while on this tight budget of yours.
Here you go!
1. Follow the 50/30/20 budget rules
Let’s say, you are actually starting to follow a budget and you're able to track your expenses. But what about your savings? Are you able to put aside a certain amount of savings every month?
There lies the importance of the 50/30/20 budget rule! This rule of thumb says to split your after-tax income into three categories. Let’s see what are they!
50% for your “needs”
30% for your “wants”
20% for your “savings”
It can be a tough task to differentiate between your needs and wants!
Here’s an example of what that may look like:
Let’s say, you have bought some fruits and vegetables from the market. Fruits and vegetables come under your “needs”. But while leaving the market, an advertisement for a chocolate cookie catches your eye and appeals to you. You buy the cookies. This becomes a luxury expense and falls under your “wants”.
So, when you are buying stuff for your basic needs like your cell phone, rent, your mortgage, and your transportation costs, these things come under your needs! However, when you are spending on entertainment, expensive shoes, dining out, etc., these expenses come under your wants.
Most of us tend to spend lavishly on our wants. But this budget plan can help you cap your expenses on your wants to 30%! Most importantly, you’ll be able to save a fixed amount (20%) of your after-tax income! Save these dollars for your emergency funds, retirement accounts, etc. in order to have a stable financial life!
2. Use credit cards responsibly
The lucrative reward points and cashback offers of credit cards are tempting. But credit cards can burn a hole in your pocket, if not used wisely!
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind while using a credit card:
1. Having a good credit score can help you in the long run. For example, you need to have a fairly good credit score to take out a mortgage loan with preferable terms and conditions! So, you can use your credit card for building a good credit score. Charge your credit card for small amounts but make sure to pay your balance in full each month, preferably within the grace period! Typically, you can avoid having to pay exorbitant amounts of interest if you pay off the balance amount within the grace period!
2. Refrain from making minimum payments. Let’s say, you are making only the minimum payment for the present billing cycle. Your outstanding balance amount is rolled over to the next billing cycle. You might get some temporary relief, but at the end of the day, you will ultimately have to shell out a hefty amount to pay off your credit card debt.
The high interests, finance charges, and compound interest calculations will make your outstanding balance abysmally high!
So, swipe your credit card wisely while paying bills. Otherwise, you may end up getting debt trapped and saving any substantial amount of money will be a distant dream!
3. Go for a “no-spend challenge”
One of the hardest things about saving money on a tight budget is that it’s not filled with fun! So to make the best of it, how about turning this journey into a game?
Yes, you heard it right!
For a period of time, challenge to yourself to eliminate of your unnecessary expenses! It can be a weekend, a week, or perhaps a month! But the goal should be to rein in spending and limit your impulse buys. You can also set certain rules that you can spend on your basic needs. Just keep in mind that you want to avoid the temptation of spending money at any cost!
After all, there are more important things in life then spending money!
4. Opt for a cash diet
One of the primary reasons for not saving enough is the use of too much of plastic money! It has made our expenses much more convenient, and quick, but it also has many drawbacks too.
While buying things with your credit cards, you may not realize how much you’re actually spending. However, when you pay by cash, you can track your money in a better way. Try following the cash diet to curb your over expenses like the way a traditional diet helps you to curb your fat!
The rule of thumb says you have to use physical currency only! So, next time while going out for shopping or dining out, carry cash only! Studies have revealed that people tend to spend less when they pay with cash!
Let’s think from the psychological aspect!
Shopping with credit cards gives you the false security that you have more money than you actually do! However, when you pay with cash, you know that you are limited to an exact certain amount of money.
Give this one a shot. This way, you won’t have to struggle to pay off your bills at the end of the billing cycle. Also, you will be able to save a considerable amount which you would have paid for the credit card interests and finance charges.
5. Pay off your debts asap
Do you already have debt? If the answer is yes, it’s highly advisable to pay off your debt as soon as possible!
You may already be noticing that a substantial part of your paycheck is being used to pay off your debt every month. When you have so much debt to pay off, it is a serious hindrance to the amount of money you can contribute towards your savings, so the sooner you pay it off, the better!
To get rid of your debt trap, a neat idea is to opt for an app that is geared towards helping you develop a debt relief strategy. Many plans to pay off debt fail because of lack of motivation and patience! In order to keep up your motivation, take a look at a quick overview of financial gamification and pay off your debts with ease!
6. Stop eating out
A 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistic report reveals that an average American household spends about $3,000 a year dining out!
But why is dining out so expensive?
Restaurants charge almost a 300% markup on the items they serve! You are paying more because of the service and convenience. In many cases, you would find that a $15 meal in a restaurant costs around $5 to make at home! So you can just imagine the profits being made by restaurants!
Now, let’s see what you can save in a month by cooking at home.
Usually, it takes about $7 to $8 for a single meal at a fast-food restaurant. Let’s say, you only eat for lunches during the workweek. Adding up the costs makes that about $40 a week and about $172 a monthly! This is just for a single person and simply for one single meal per day. If you dine out more often or have a family, you might end up spending much more!
Besides, eating out a lot increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and many other health problems. Most of the fast foods are loaded with carbohydrates with little or no fiber. As a result, when your digestive system breaks down these foods, the carbs are released as glucose into your bloodstream. Eventually, your blood sugar increases, obesity kicks in, and a myriad of other health issues.
So, you can remain healthy and wealthy by preparing your food at home!
7. Buy in bulk
It is a great way to slash down the costs of commonly used items like paper towels, oatmeal, diapers, etc. Before you go shopping, make a list of the things which you really need. You may even decide to do a large part of your grocery shopping at supermarkets that are less expensive and allow bulk purchases such as Walmart or Costco.
Always look for discounts and promotional codes. There are websites like Dealnews, Savings.com, RetailMeNot, etc. which can help you in finding the best deals on your bulk purchases.
8. Change your television service
You can put aside some extra dollars by canceling your cable tv subscription. Doing so, could save you upwards of around $100 or more! You can always go for alternate options like:
Apple TV: You need to pay a one-time cost of about $100 and it will allow you to connect to Netflix, Hulu Plus, iTunes and many other applications for free!
Redbox: This is a low-cost way to watch movies at home for only $1 per movie per night. You have to rent the movie at a Redbox kiosk and return it the next day.
Netflix: This is a very popular and inexpensive way to watch TV shows and movies for only around $8 per month!
So, keeping all of this in mind, we can say that living within your means goes a long way towards being able to save money, especially when you are on a tight budget!
So go for it, utilize these 8 money saving hacks and manage your tight budget with ease and perfection!
What do you say?
by Valentina Wilson. Valentina is a personal financial blogger. She loves to analyize personal financial matters and help others manage their finances in a better way. Traveling is also her passion and she loves to spend her free time exploring different places. To connect with her, go to her Facebook / Twitter or visit Bestdebtconsolidation.org. Valentina Wilson has been a blogger for the past 6 years and has started her own blog around 2 years ago. Presently, she is residing in Hadley, Massachusetts.