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6 Ways to Be More Prudent and More Financially Stable

6 Ways to Be More Prudent and More Financially Stable

We are taught to manage our finances while we are still kids. Our parents give us an allowance and see how we distribute our money throughout the month or week. Then when we move out during our studies, we have to pay bills and buy food so managing finances becomes a bit more difficult. Then we start to live in a home of our own, where there are all sorts of other bills and repairs to worry about, so staying within your budget becomes even more difficult.

If we are not careful, we can easily end up having money problems and this can lead to a very stressful life in the future. Furthermore, we live in a time of consumerism, so a lot of people out there are trying to sell you things you don’t even need, but they are making compelling cases so that you end up becoming a customer. Due to these reasons, managing finances becomes more challenging, so here are some tips that can help you become more frugal.

Plan out how much you are allowed to spend

Alright, one of the most basic mistakes one can make when handling salary, is to adopt a “go with the flow” point of view. When you get your paycheck, it would be wise to have some sort of basic budget plan i.e. a rough estimate of how much you can spend on a daily basis, so that you can go through an entire month living fairly comfortably.

Once you have that, you should by no means spend the entire daily budget, since you are bound to face unexpected expenses and you’ll need an emergency fund. Also, this daily budget is a good starting point for future financial strategies. You’ll need to find different ways of increasing your daily limit and challenging yourself to save more.

Do not be financially dependent on other people

Of course, if you are going through a bad financial patch, chances are you will borrow money from friends or family. However, you should not allow this to become a habit. Being financially dependent on other people makes you one step closer to financial suicide.

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Truth be told, you might not borrow much and your close friends or family won’t mind you borrowing some money, but this is more of a personal issue. If you constantly need to depend on other people, then you have a problem that has a rather simple solution. You can either spend less or find a way to earn more.

We live in a world where earning a bit extra cash is really not that hard, it’s simply tedious. You can complete surveys or install apps that you can use to earn money online and then can cash-in later. If you continue to rely on others from one month to another, it will only send a message that you refuse to solve your problems and this can leave severe consequences in the future.

Do thorough research before important decisions

It is important that you do not make any big investments without thorough research. You can visit different types of agencies and speak to different financial advisors, but bear in mind, that these people can have a vested interest when they tell you what to do. If the advice is not coming from a close friend or a family member who genuinely cares for you and who is well-versed in money management, don’t immediately adhere to it.

You can do online research and find more accurate information this way. Of course, the people who tell you how to handle your finances are also online and will probably advise you the same thing there, but there is a difference. Google has its own base of trusted websites, and there are always ways to check if sites are trustworthy. Here are some explanations on how to do it, but you can find even more online.

These big decisions are usually loans and these loans are sometimes a necessity, because it is unrealistic to expect that you can simply pay for an entire house with cash. So, at one point you might need to get a house mortgage. When someone explains to you how this whole process works and you feel that the explanation is oversimplified, then chances are that, the person has a vested interest in your investment.

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It’s important that you are vigilant and that you explore all of the other options before you go through with this type of decision. Here is a good guide that can help you gain a deeper understanding of mortgage rates; make sure you go through it if you plan to buy a new home, or if you want to be a real estate investor.

Another important thing to remember is not to turn to the payday loan industry. These are also known as predatory loans, because their interest rates are ridiculously high. They only offer a quick solution, but everyone ends up regretting their decision due to the astronomical interest rates.

In other words, if you really need a loan and intend to pay it back, then it’s far better to borrow from friends or family. People usually end up borrowing money from others, or pawn their possessions in order to return payday loans and they could have done those things in the first place instead of taking that loan.

Use money management tools

I have already mentioned how you can use apps to earn money, but you can also use apps to save money. There are apps that can calculate your expenses and give you good financial advice, but it’s always better to seek a financial advisor you can trust. However, there are apps which can help you get coupons or discounts in stores.

They will also provide you with insight into which stores currently have discounts, sales etc. These are really useful and with a good shopping strategy you can save a lot of money. It’s also important to know that some of these quality apps come at a price, so you should only buy them if you absolutely need them.

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In other words, if you are already having a hard time managing your resources and have debts, then these apps won’t do much good; they will only be an additional expense. On the other hand, if you want to create a good savings strategy, then buying them is a good idea, since they will eventually pay for themselves.

Use saving tactics

When it comes to saving money, there are so many viable tactics out there that you would be surprised. In this section I will only list some that I really like, but as mentioned you can find a lot more online.

  • Weekly challenge: Basically you set the amount of money you wish to put aside each week (it can be $1, $5, or $10). Then at the end of the week you put that amount in a piggy bank or a savings jar, but at the end of next week, the amount needs to be doubled and so on.

So, if you go for $5 then, next week you place $10, and a week after that is $20, and the last             week of the month is $40. You reset the amount at the beginning of the next month. Also it             might be better to place the money in the jar at the beginning of the week, so that you know             you cannot count on it.

  • Wait for a discount on general goods, like cleaning products, toilet paper, toothpaste etc. Then feel free to buy these goods in bulk and you won’t have to spend money on them in the near future.
  • If you need new furniture, check out sites like freecycle.org to see what you can get free of charge.
  • Instead of buying cleaning rags, you can save your old clothes that are no longer wearable, and use them to clean floors.
  • Before you go shopping, write a list and stick to it; don’t be tempted to buy anything you don’t need. In any store, the most essential items are usually in the back, so that shoppers are tempted by expensive products they do not need while they are walking to the back of the store to buy what they came for.
  • Learn how to repair clothes so you won’t have to toss it away at the first signs of wear and tear and you can also earn some extra cash if you monetize these skills.
  • Buy light bulbs that do not use as much energy as regular light bulbs, they last longer and even though they are expensive, they will pay for themselves and save you money.

Once you manage to accumulate a fine amount of resources with these saving tactics you can invest in things like solar panels and a tankless water heater, since these will also save you money in the long run. Moreover, in case you want to discover more saving tactics, you can use websites like thesimpledollar.com, and you can find some good tips in this article as well.

If you go through the links, you’ll find out that if you choose to live healthier you’ll also save a lot of money. We all spend too much on food and if you learn how to prepare it yourself, you will eat better and spend less.

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Furthermore, if you buy bottled water, you should stop and buy a filter for tap water; this way you can drink tap water and you won’t have to buy it from the store. Also, if you carpool with your colleagues from work, you save the environment and money that would go on gas. In other words, we spend a lot just to have a bit more convenience and we don’t really need to sacrifice much to save quite a  bit of money.

Eliminate minor but unnecessary expenses

Finally, you must never forget that we live in a world that is dominated by micro transactions. These are really tricky, since you can’t argue that someone is trying scam you and we have almost no issue with small fees, so we part from our money lightly.

However, one small subscription after another and you start to lose a significant amount of cash, and you barely notice it. These small subscriptions are very often for a magazine, for account maintenance, for private network channels or cable channels etc.

In reality we  rarely use these services, mostly when we are bored and quite frankly there are other ways to be entertained. It only seems cheap and convenient with these subscriptions, but in the long run, we end up regretting the decision when we find out just how much we could have saved. The point is, you should not fall for micro transactions for products you won’t use frequently.

As you can see, being more prudent is not that hard. All it takes is some effort and minor life changes, but there are long-term benefits for those willing to apply them. Make sure you go through the links in this article, as they can tell you how to save and how to think before investing, and they can also help you earn a bit extra.

Remember to operate within the borders of your daily budgetnand to invest in items that can help you save more money in the future. If you manage to do this, you should be just fine.

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Djordje Todorovic

Blogger, Gamer Extraordinaire

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Published on January 17, 2020

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

Have you ever looked at health gurus and wondered how on earth they can afford all that health food? Or maybe you’ve tried multiple times to start eating healthy only to find the $600 monthly budget overwhelming?

If you’re anything like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about! I absolutely understand the sinking feeling of looking back over a grocery budget and finding you went way over what you intended. And besides that, it can be hard to justify buying a tiny $5 bag of carrot chips while a $1 mound of potato chips is sitting right next door.

My husband and I recently ran into that struggle. We got married this past year and soon found ourselves trying to balance 12 hour work-days with keeping our relationship strong and trying to keep our personal businesses afloat. Granted, our budget was the one thing that took a hit! After we started tracking our spending, we were shocked to see we were spending over $1000 a month just on food! A little planning cleared that right up.

So, how to eat healthy on a budget?

Here’re the top tips I learned that helped us shave over $600 monthly off of our food budget so we could reinvest that in the areas that really mattered to us![1]

1. Meal Plan

You’ve probably heard the saying “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail” right? Well, this saying couldn’t be any more true than in the area of healthy budgeting! The fact is, most healthy foods don’t actually cost that much… the pre-made time saving ones do!

If you go about creating a healthy meal plan within your budget, you could easily cut costs down to around the same price you are paying for junk food.

Meal planning is as simple as working in foods you already have in your fridge/freezer, adding in several meals with simple ingredients and seasonal veggies, and breaking it down into a shopping list.

Often, finding a few meals to make in big batches will save you the most money in the long run, which leads me to my next point.

2. Cook in Bulk

Not only will cooking in bulk save you a whole lot of time, it will save you a whole lot of money too! Believe it or not, if you find meals to make with similar ingredients, you can easily save more money than when you were eating unhealthy.

Don’t believe me? Just look at a $4 frozen pasta dinner. Now, sub that with a veggie pasta dinner. 5 zuchinni ($3), Pasta sauce ($2.50), and chicken ($5) could last you a full 5 meals which adds up to a whopping total of just over $1 per meal!

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That’s not even digging in to all the money you will save from fast-food. Trust me, a little $10 spent here and there add up! You’ll be saving a whopping amount from all the meal prep you will do!

3. Cook all Your Meals in One Day

The science behind this is 2-fold.

Number one, if you have lots of meals to grab and go, you will be far less likely to binge on pricier food when you get hungry. Let’s be real, you’re not going to spend 1 hour cooking when hub-n’-grub is at your bekon-call!

Number 2, meal prepping ahead of time will help you stick to your meal plan better when you’re not in the mood. Let’s face it, we’re all going to have days when protein and veggies doesn’t exactly sound appealing. But, if you have a full meal that’s quick to grab in the fridge, it will be easier for you to fill up on the good stuff rather than spending money on what you don’t really need.

4. Cut Back on Snacks and Specialty Items

I can almost hear you from across the screen. “But, I thought snacks were good for me!” Here’s the deal: Snacks are expensive! And healthy snacks, oh my goodness, say goodbye to your paycheck!

Look, I’m definitely not saying that healthy snacks are bad. Quite frankly, I would much rather you chow down on Halo Top than a triple-butterfinger-fudge sundae. It’s just that… healthy snacks are why eating healthy gets a bad rap for being expensive.

Look at it this way: You could either buy a week’s worth of groceries full of chicken, fish, beans, veggies, and fruits for $30. Or, you can spend that $30 on six snacks that will leave you hungry for more.

What’s more, the ingredients for gluten-free baked goods, sugar free substitutes, or protein powders alone will add up to you eating a full week’s budget in one sitting. By all means, if you want to work some yummy items into your budget, do it! But don’t confuse that extra monthly $300 of delicacies as a necessity. Your body and budget will thank you!

5. Satisfy Yourself with Your Favorite Subs

We all have an emotional tie to food. Maybe pasta reminds you of home! Or maybe a fresh-baked pizza is what gives you a feeling of comfort. Whatever you favorite food, find a way to work it into your budget in the best way.

We’re only human, and depriving ourselves of what we love will never end well. More often than not actually, it ends in take-out or a pricey-premade substitute.

Instead of finding yourself in this situation, find a way to make your favorite foods fit your budget. Zuchinni noodle pasta might just give you that feeling of home without breaking the bank. Or maybe you could google a healthy pizza alternative you would like that you could make at home. Often, something similar to your craving will be enough to give you a sense of satisfaction.

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Or, just buy your cheat meal and save it for a special day. That’s okay too!

6. Stick to the Cheaper Proteins

Okay, I know we all love steak. Unfortunately, buying pre-cooked or expensive cuts of meat are one of the easiest ways to drain a budget.

Instead of purchasing those, try buying frozen chicken or eggs. A 5 lb bag of frozen chicken can be as cheap as $5, and you can buy a whole weeks worth of eggs for just over $1. You could even try going vegetarian for a few meals if you really want to cut down on costs!

7. Buy Frozen Fruits and Veggies

I know, we all love our fresh fruits and veggies! However, sometimes frozen might be the way to go if you’re looking to cut costs!

Fruits and veggies are easiest to ship when frozen, making them a much cheaper option. Contrary to popular belief, scientists have actually found that frozen might be better for you too![2]

The reason is, frozen produce is picked at its prime and shipped immediately. Fresh fruit tends to be picked much earlier so it will ripen while being shipped. Not only does this make it less nutrient dense, but sometimes the fruits are actually pumped with artificial flavors to make up for the lack of real nutrients.

While I’m all for fresh fruits and veggies, don’t feel guilty if you opt for frozen foods due to a budget.

8. Bump up the Calories with Rice and Beans

The problem some people find when trying to eat healthy is that it can be hard to get the amount of calories you need without relying on expensive “specialty” items. Instead of stocking up on pricey gluten-free breads and pasta, I say stick to simple rice and beans as the bulk of your meals.

Brown Rice is very cheap and easy to use as a base for bowls and dishes. Likewise, beans can add a bit of fiber making you feel full and satisfied without having to spend a lot of money.

If you are trying to cut on body fat, use extra veggies as the bulk of your meal and add in rice and beans as a filler.

9. Try Acai Bowls

Acai Bowls can be a really cheap and satisfying meal as long as you do it right.

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You can find cheap fruits at most stores or just freeze your fresh fruits before it goes bad.

Making your own granola can save you a lot of money as well. The total cost for this delicious meal should only add up to a few dollars compared to triple that price if you were to buy one pre-made.

10. Make Your Own Meal Kits

Do you like your meals freshly cooked? Sending meal kits to your doorstep is an easy way to drain your budget. Instead, try making your meal kit at home! Not only is it fun, you will easily get a delicious taste.

Simply find a few simple meal cards or print some out and fill a ziplock with the ingredients for each specific day. Don’t know what recipe to make? Another option is to order one month of meal kits and recycle the recipe into ingredients for the upcoming months with ingredients you picked up from the store.

11. Don’t Drink Your Calories

A few dollars spent here and there can really add up! Just as with specialty items, healthy drinks can be a blackhole for you. An energy drink and kombucha and coffee each day could easily have you spending and extra $300 each month!

I you really need a special drink fix, try making your favorites at home. Bring a coffee in, make kombucha, or even try making lemonade with stevia or a healthy soda. You’ll be surprised w hat a big difference such a small change can make on your budget!

12. Buy Cheap Online

Just like anything else, it pays to be prepared. Buying foods from online retailers can be a really affordable way to save money as long as you’re prepared.

Plan ahead for those more expensive specialty items you can’t live without. It will save you tons of money compared to having to buy food from a specialty store.

13. Don’t Fret about the Clean Fifteen

One of the huge things that can mess with a person’s budget is eating organic. For the record, I am 110% all for eating organic whenever you can. However, for some people, it can be hard to make organic food fit into a budget.

Instead of scratching healthy eating for a smaller budget, try to buy meat and the dirty dozen organic, and don’t go crazy about the rest. The clean fifteen are the fifteen safest foods to buy that aren’t organic! Meanwhile, the dirty dozen is the most worthwhile avoiding. According to Produce Retailer, these are the dirty dozens:[3]

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

14. Pay Attention to Storage

Keeping the food you have is just as important as how much food is in the first place. Try to stay on top of how much produce you can actually use before it goes bad. It might not be a bad idea to pencil an extra shopping trip in the middle of the week to keep food fresh.

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Investing in good food storage containers could go a long way in saving you in the long run as well.

15. Freeze Food Before it Goes Bad

Instead of getting mad at yourself at the end of the week for all the wilted produce you need to throw out, try freezing it before you get to that point.

Most frozen veggies will taste delicious in stir fries and soups. You can freeze fruits to make sorbet or smoothies. Frozen greens can be chopped up and tossed into just about anything for a nutrient boost!

16. Consider Ditching Most Supplements and Powders

I have nothing against superfood powders and supplements. However, if your budget is tight, it can be hard to fit supplements and powders in.

Instead of adding in powders, add extra nutrients to you food. Add lots of greens and veggies to all your meals to meet your nutrient needs. If you need a specific supplement, you can find great deals online as well!

17. Use Budget App

There are so many great apps you can download for free. One of my current favorite is HoneyDue because you can track your budget easily with your spouse. There are many options available, just find the one that you’re most likely to use. The ones that download your spendings automatically are often the easiest and will give you a more accurate number.

My husband and I use the same app, but have a separate budget for each of our weekly food plan and for our additional snacks. Keeping things separate can often be helpful to know exactly where your money is going. Plus, it can help hold you accountable if you have a significant other you are sharing money with.

18. Use What you Have

Most people have unused protein powders lying around in their cabinets. Instead of letting that go to waste, work them into your meal plan. Protein powders can make amazing doughnuts, pastries, or pancakes!

19. Enjoy the Process!

Finding ways to enjoy your new lifestyle will be helpful in sticking to it long term. Find fun in seeing how much you can save each month. Make a competition with someone to see who can stick to the lowest budget and create something fun to do for the winner with some of the money saved! Blast some music in the kitchen while cooking your new recipes.

Budgeting and health doesn’t have to be a drag. Make it fun and you’ll enjoy your new lifestyle long-term!

Featured photo credit: kevin laminto via unsplash.com

Reference

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