Make Your Budget Do More For You
Hey Ya'll! Thanks for stopping in! This post is going to be pretty to the point. Over the past year as a new homeowner, I have been thinking of ways that I can chip away at my budget to make my bucks go further. So I have put together a short and simple list of ways that I have learned to help cut costs and save the difference! Let's get to it!
#1. Determine Necessities Vs. Wants- Prioritize expenses based on what HAS to be paid each month, and what comes as an added luxury item. Examples of Necessities are: Mortgage payment, utility bill, allowance for groceries, insurance, car payment, etc. Examples of Luxuries are: Cable bill, additional spending cash, telephone bill, etc.
#2. Find Ways to Cut Necessary Expenses! – Call your local utility company to see about discounts they may offer for being a good standing customer. You can also sometimes receive a discount by signing up for an automatic draft each month. Compare prices of cable/internet providers if you must have these expenses, and then negotiate until you are at a price you can feel okay about. The next option may not be for everyone, but if you are someone who is serious about saving and you can go without cable and the internet, cancel them! This can easily save 50-100+ /month which adds up to anywhere from $600-$1200+ per year! *If you have to have your favorite shows, cheaper alternatives are Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime ( all around $9/mth). Of course, if you go entirely without, you spend $0!
#3. Unplug Appliances When Not In Use- I have found a way to decrease your monthly utility is to do something as simple as unplugging your toaster oven when you are not using it. I know it seems petty, but it works! Plus, once you get used to unplugging as soon as you finish using something, it becomes second nature to you. What are some of the things I regularly unplug? Television/gaming systems, toaster over/blender/coffeemaker, bedside lamps, computer, phone charger etc.)
#4. Become More Energy Efficient- Turn up your AC! When you leave for work, turn your AC up to at least 75 ( we do 77 or 78) and turn on ceiling fans to help circulate the air instead. Who needs to chill their house when they are gone for eight hours anyway?? By the time that I get home between 5:30-6 o’clock, even though it may still be 85 degrees outside, when I walk into my house, it is surprisingly comfortable and still provides relief from the outside heat! Another way we keep it cool? Close your blinds! It has been proven that closing your blinds can keep your home a good 10 degrees cooler (think of car window visors). Also, we do not turn our AC below 80 upstairs since no one is currently staying in any of the rooms up there. Another way to save on your energy bill is to wash your clothes in cold water and line dry items when the weather permits. Anytime you use an appliance with heat, the energy bill is going to go up, so try to minimize the use of these appliances.
#5. Stop Spending Money on Take-Out! - This is a tough one since I rarely get home by six o’clock and by then I do not feel like cooking (especially in the heat of summer!). Sometimes I eat a bowl of cereal ora PB&J, and sometimes I may cook a large meal one night a week to use leftovers and incorporate the extra into a new meal later. Also, make it a point to take your lunch to work! Spending anywhere from 5 to 9 dollars a day (average for a drive-thru combo or lunch deals at eat in restaurants) adds up to 25-45 dollars per week, 100-180 dollars a month and 1200 to 2160 dollars per year! *(this is based on eating out five days a week only; not including weekends when most people tend to eat outside of the home.) Let’s say you only eat out lunch two times a week, that is still around 50 per month and 600 per year, so it can definitely add up!
#6. Consolidate Debt!- I know we all hate it when we get mail from a credit card company that sends us yet another “you’re pre-approved” letter! But, here is a little secret. Open them. No, I do not condone opening another credit card account, but I do thoroughly recommend checking out the offers that have the 0 transfer fees, 0 interest and 0 APR for a certain number of trial months. The good thing about credit cards is you can always cancel when you get what you want out of them! I currently have three credit cards. One I have had since I was straight out of high school (so I kinda feel loyal to them :/ ) they have been nothing but good to me. The other two, well I acquired because they were pretty and had rewards. The bad thing? The more credit you have available, the more you tend to justify spending more. Not a good thing! By transferring balances to a single card, you can pay more towards your debt per month and pay the debt down faster. (especially if you have done away with all of those pesky interest fees) After you utilize the perks of transferring debt to one card, cancel it and Voila, your debt cloud just evaporated ;)
#7. Count Your Loose Change!- Seriously people, it adds up!! When I was waitressing, I remember other servers used to complain about people who left tips in quarters, or dimes, etc. And if I am honest, I used to be one of those too. Until….da da duuunnnn.. I realized money is money and coins add up fast! I know most people have a catch-all jar or contraption of some sort and some people simply forget about the loose change in their purse, car, or wherever! If you make it a point to save your change, I promise you will be pleasantly surprised when you take the time to sit down and count it. The good news is, you can save this stash or use it to pay off a bill, go on a dinner date, use on vacation or towards your next tank of gas! Either way, it is going to put money in your pocket that you didn't know you had ;)
#8 Have a Yard Sale- Okay, this is probably one of the most obvious ways to make extra money. Can it be a lot of hard work? Yes. Does it take time and planning? Yes. But doesn’t it also help declutter your house and give you extra Cash in the process? YES!!!! I tell you the only thing more rewarding than knowing I am getting rid of a bunch of stuff that I never use anymore, is getting paid to give it away.
#9 Thrift Shop- For real people! This will not only save your bank account, but it is a lot of fun too! I LOVE thrifting! I am not someone who cares about spending money on clothes, but the best part is finding nice brands for cheap. Like two dollar cheap. When you spend $20 on a new wardrobe vs. $20 on a t-shirt, that is some serious saving. Most thrift store sweeps for me run me about that much, and I walk out with bags of stuff. Check out this steal from my last trip where I spent $21 and walked out with 6 pairs of shorts, two pairs of capri pants, two pairs of dress pants, a dress and two nice tops.
#10. Side Hustle- Pick up a side job or utilize a hobby you have to make extra income on the side! One way my husband and I do this is by dog/house sitting. We just kind of fell into it when my boss needed someone to feed her pups one weekend. Then when my mother-in-law told her boss what we were doing, she said she could use us too! Before you know it, word gets around, and you can make some quick cash pretty easily. If you love animals and don’t mind staying at someone’s house (who wouldn’t? It is like a mini vacay ;) ), then this is a fun way to make some extra dough! Some other ways I have made money; selling clothes online through Poshmark and Mercari, consigning at a little place called My Sister’s Closet and using Direct Sales companies such as Mary Kay and Thirty-one. The only disclaimer about direct selling is that it does require some form of upfront purchase. So if you do not have the extra cash and do not have the time to promote said business, this will be a waste of your money. Trust me; I speak from experience.
#11. Do Not Spend Just Because You Saved- The main thing to remember when saving is that whenever you find ways to cut costs, DON’T spend it! I have a bad habit of saving money and using that to justify spending it on something else. If you are trying to save, please be disciplined to save. Lock it away, have your husband or wife hide it. Whatever you have to do. Do not take savings from one fund to spend with another because then you are just shuffling;P
Can you think of any more money saving Tips I may have missed? I would love to hear them!
Savings and Blessings,