Cut Back on Spending

At first it may seem difficult to limit spending and stick to a budget, however there are a few practical changes that you can make everyday that will cut your spending more than you expect.

Firstly, alter credit car behavior. Start to pay cash whenever possible. This will help you avoid making a purchase unless you actually have the money available. If you decide to make a credit card purchase, be prepared to pay the balance off monthly. This will save a lot of money through avoiding interest charges. If you already have a credit card balance, then transfer to a card with a low interest rate. Also, find a card that does not charge an annual fee.

Another tip is to pack your lunch everyday. All of those lunch hours spent at restaurants will add up. Bringing your own lunch can save you several dollars every day, which will add up over time.

Use your cell phone during off peak hours. Some people will spend a couple hundred dollars a month on phone charges. Avoid this by making most calls during off peak times. Check with your service and plan to find out when you have cheaper or unlimited calls.

Stop throwing away the Sunday newspaper before skimming through the advertisements. Clip some of those coupons and check out the sales. This may seem tedious, but the savings are often worth it. Many stores will double or triple the amount of the coupon. This technique can save you up to 20 or 30 dollars each time you head to the food store.

Additionally, refinance. Mortgage rates have been extremely low over the past year. This has been a great opportunity to reduce the monthly house payment significantly. If you are planning to have your house paid off prior to retirement, then you may want to factor this in before refinancing.

Finally, bundle your insurance. Many insurance companies will offer their customers lower rates if they purchase multiple policies. For instance, some people use the same agent for multiple cars, and others combine their cars and house. Always keep in mind that a dollar here and there really begins to add up. Avoid the temptation of thinking that changing your spending habits wouldn’t save that much money.

Create and Maintain a Budget

The first step to avoiding the troubles of financial debt is to create and maintain a budget. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds, don’t worry.

First off, create a list of all your monthly income and also a list of your monthly expenses. When determining income, list all sources including alimony, child support, side jobs, etc. In calculating expenses, be sure to include housing, food, transportation, utilities, entertainment, etc. To gain an accurate reflection of actual expenses, sit down each night and write down expenses, just make sure to save receipts. Determine if your income covers all of your expenses. If the answer is no, then some expenses need to be reduced.

Adjust expenses. If it is a small discrepancy, it may mean reducing some minor expenses like entertainment or cell phone plan. If the deficit is larger, you may need to downsize your vehicle or living arrangements. If your income covers all of your expenses, you still may want to trim some of the excess fat off your spending habits. This can free up extra money for things such as vacations or college funds for your children.

Additionally, consider if you need to add new categories. Some areas that are often overlooked are debt reduction, emergency savings funds, and retirement savings. An emergency fund ensures there is an adequate amount available to cover unforeseen events (car emergency, etc), should it arise. This will eliminate the need for using credit which can quickly damage your budget.

There are several advantages to sticking to your budget. Firstly, most people have set financial goals that they would like to reach in the future. Sometimes it may be a trip, a brand new car, or a college education. A budget can help people save money to make these goals a reality. Additionally, many people are crushed under heavy consumer debt. Without a disciplined pattern of spending, it is virtually impossible to make much headway in reducing debt. A personal budget will provide the necessary framework to begin eliminating these inflated account balances.

If executed properly, a budget will allow a person to simultaneously meet their expenses, place money into savings, and pay back outstanding debts. Therefore, it is anyone’s best interest to create and implement a budget.