Stretch Your Budget! 5 Tips to Make Your Cash Last
Have you ever wished to have a magic wand that would raise your income or reduce expenses? Talk about wishful thinking! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to cut and stretch your personal budget. Here are some tips that can help you make a $1 out of $0.15. Some may seem a bit difficult, but others may be painless, and you’ll never look back.
- Know where your money goes. This is the number one obvious idea that many people don’t follow. How can you possibly know how to save money if you don’t know what you spend it on? There are a growing number of online budgeting sites like www.budgetsimple.com that are available to help. You may also do this yourself simply by tracking your spending in a notebook or excel spreadsheet. Once documented, you’ll be surprised to see exactly where your money goes. Whatever you’ve been spending each month, try cutting it by 5 percent. Then cut it by another 5 percent the following month. Keep it up if you can, and put the savings in the bank or pay down debts.
- Make a grocery list and don’t stray. Once you’ve tracked household spending, you will see how much you spend at the supermarket. What’s less clear is that you also probably spend a lot of money on things you don’t need. In our house, we began downsizing our grocery spending by seeing what we were throwing out and the items that had freezer burn and should have been tossed. This helped sensitize us to unnecessary purchases. We also save money by making fewer runs to the store. Your greatest savings come however, when you devise a weekly meal plan and stick to it! Create a shopping list for that plan, and then buy nothing but what’s on that list. In addition, never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry! Hungry shopping can lead to extra impulse purchases that would not have made the shopping cart otherwise.
- Mothball a car. If your household has two cars, try leaving one in the garage for a month. See how it affects your life. You may be surprised that with a modest amount of planning and use of affordable public transportation, a lot of households may be able to make do with only one household vehicle. Once you’ve determined that this in fact is a viable option, sell the second car, save the money or start paying down other debts. As an added bonus, begin enjoying lower bills for auto insurance, gasoline, and maintenance.
- Trim television services. I know this sounds crazy, we all love our cable, but if times get rough, one of the easiest ways to cut spending is to wave goodbye to a bundle of monthly cable charges. Install a digital antenna and start using free video sites like YouTube and cable network websites that often post full episodes online free of charge. Other options include using media services like Netflix and Hulu that offer a wide array of media for a fairly low monthly charge.
- Recheck insurance rates. Do some comparison shopping and explore the option of replacing your current insurance coverages. You may end up saving a bundle. When you’ve had your auto, home, life, and other insurance policies in place for several years, it’s easy to forget those annual bump-ups in premiums. They really add up after a while. Furthermore, while constantly rising health insurance rates may make it seem like premiums can only move in an upward direction, that’s not true. When you do shop around, you also may discover that your coverage needs have changed. If your cars are the same ones you had five years ago, for example, you probably don’t need as much collision insurance as you once did.