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5 Budgeting Tips That You Should Never Miss

5 Budgeting Tips That You Should Never Miss

Who doesn’t want to feel more comfortable, less stressed out and be able to afford occasional luxuries, like travel, gadgets or some nice clothes?

Your finances can impact all areas of life, and can even put an unnecessary strain on your love life, so it is a good idea to learn a few useful things about effective budgeting. Living within one’s means isn’t all that difficult, nor does it require huge sacrifices – you just need to be realistic, ambitious and motivated to make some positive changes. Let’s look at some practical examples of things you can do to put a rein on your finances and start being more strategic with your spending.

1. Focus on prevention rather than the cure when it comes to maintenance costs

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Car broke down

    You see people do this with their health, their home and their car – they neglect regular maintenance and make do, until the moment something goes terribly wrong and they are forced to remedy the problem quickly. The problem here is that if you allow a small problem to grow out of control, you can end up spending a whole lot of money trying to fix it.

    Let’s say your car is chugging along just fine, but you’re not the first owner and have had it for a while. You may notice small problems creeping in if you just do some regular car maintenance, like replacing worn down parts, changing the oil and having a general checkup from time to time. These principles can be applied to any aspect of life – regular maintenance is a huge money-saver in the long run.

    2. Make sure to pay yourself for all the hard work you do

    Sometimes finding a bit of extra money in your budget that you can stash away is just a matter of perspective. Don’t see it as taking some money away from a salary that already has to cover plenty of expenses, think of it as paying yourself for the amazing job you do every single day. As financially savvy people have pointed out before, establishing that your comfort and financial security are a priority makes it easier to justify saving a decent part of your total income.

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    It can be as simple as taking about 5% of your income off the top as soon as you get your paycheck and putting it in a savings account. You can make such payments automatic, which is easier than always trying to resist temptations, and you can slowly increase the amount you set aside as you get more experienced with managing your budget.

    3. When you need something done, do it yourself

    Home repairs

      While certain goods and services are fairly complex and well beyond our own skill level, with many things paying top dollar is more about convenience than anything else. If you buy in bulk, look for sales and cook your own food you can save a substantial amount of money, but it will require some effort on your part.

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      In the same vein, if you devote some of your time and energy towards developing some basic DIY skills, you can take a few fairly inexpensive supplies and make whatever you need. Taking the time to learn how to do some basic repairs yourself is also a good idea. Creating a small monthly DIY budget allows you to stock up on supplies and tools needed for all the crafting and repairs you’ll be doing.

      4. Keep your monthly budget flexible and you won’t break the bank

      Now, as far as your income, in a majority of cases it stays the same throughout the year or is at least fairly consistent. This means that you either have to make some more on the side or rearrange your finances from month to month to face new challenges or afford certain luxuries without having to dip into your emergency fund or stall your savings.

      The simplest way of going about it is to do some budget fine tuning – e.g. if you want to buy a new TV or a fancy pair of shoes, you may have to eat out a couple of times less. Some expenses pop up every two or three months and some are seasonal, so you will have to divert funds from other areas during those periods.  The story of John Steinert, a man in his mid-twenties who is just about to pay off all his student loans and is on a good track to retiring before sixty, shows that you can manage to live comfortably while saving, just as long as you have a good plan and keep things flexible.

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      5. Expect the unexpected costs

      Injured Piggy Bank WIth Crutches

        Last, but certainly not the least, you have to have some kind of buffer, which allows you cover unexpected costs without needing to take out a loan or raid your primary savings account. As we already noted, regular maintenance costs should be covered by your monthly budget – e.g. problems with your car’s engine or a serious case of mold in the attic fall under maintenance costs as they are something you should expect to deal with from time to time.

        Unexpected costs include things like a long hospital stay due to injury, a friend announcing that he or she is getting married out of the bloom, theft, your phone falling down a flight of stairs and breaking, etc. Chances of things like this happening are not that high, but there are plenty of little things that can go horribly wrong, and you need an emergency fund separate from your main savings account to help you deal with these problems as painlessly as possible.

        Applying these tips in your day-to-day life will help you cover the broad strokes of your financial planning, but it is ultimately up to you to set priorities and fine tune your budget. With a bit of luck, you’ll be well on your way to achieving financial stability in the next couple of years.

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        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        SEO Consultant

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        Published on September 17, 2018

        How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

        How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

        Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

        With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

        So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

        1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

        It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

        You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

        So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

        2. When you want something big, wait

        Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

        It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

        We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

        A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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        So, you get the itch.

        You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

        Here’s where you have to take a step back.

        Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

        Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

        It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

        The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

        3. Live smaller than you can afford

        You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

        You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

        That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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        Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

        Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

        The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

        But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

        4. Practice smart grocery shopping

        Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

        But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

        Create a grocery budget

        Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

        Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

        I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

        Make a list… and never deviate

        Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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        You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

        These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

        Eat before going grocery shopping

        It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

        If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

        After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

        Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

        However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

        This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

        5. Cancel your gym membership

        Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

        The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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        Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

        I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

        Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

        Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

        For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

        Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

        There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

        It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

        I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

        Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

        The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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