If you often feel your income is stretched too thinly to cover all your bills, habits and fun, you’re definitely not alone. No matter how much you make, lots of folks push their budget to the limit month after month.
While budgeting alone won’t solve everything, it’s a great place to start so you can see how much you really spend in an average much – and what you can potentially cut out or save on.
We’ll share tips to budget and save money so you can get ahead of your cash flow.
Budget and save money on expenses hiding in plain sight
Start with your budget
It’s the oldest advice around, and for good reason: budget so you can see exactly where all your money is going.
Whether you use a spreadsheet, app, or trusty pen and paper, taking stock of expenses reveals a lot about what you spend – and when.
From there, you can see what your biggest expenditures are.
Trim your biggest costs
Some budget fixes are easy while others require more commitment. For example, if you spend a lot on dining out, commit to cutting back on a meal or night out once in a while. Or if you see there’s a subscription service you haven’t used in a while, consider pausing it until you’re ready to make the most of it again.
For most folks, the biggest line item is rent or a mortgage. Reducing this could be fairly easy, like getting a roommate or renting out a room on a homeshare website. Or it could be more involved, like finding a cheaper apartment or selling your home to downsize to a more affordable option.
Big wins are just that: big wins. If you can trim your biggest line items, you’ll have a lot more breathing room in the rest of your budget. And you won’t have to fret over small purchases, like ordering lunch at work or treating yourself to a nice coffee drink.
Drill down from there
It may not be possible to move, or maybe you’re already saving as much as you can on big line items in your budget.
Other ways to save are smaller wins, but they add up if you can combine a couple. For example, you can save by:
- Combining your insurance carriers to get a bundle discount
- Calling your cable and internet companies and asking for a promotional discount
- Buying common household items in bulk instead of every time you go shopping
- Renting or borrowing items instead of purchasing them
- Going to happy hour or discount days instead of full-price meal outings
See what you can combine, decrease, or eliminate. Most folks don’t realize how much they really spend on certain items until they see it laid out as a budget line item.
Watch out for fees
Most fees are for banking-related charges, like overdrafts and interest. If you’re paying to have a checking account, find a new bank that has no fees and one or two waived overdrafts per year.
Or if you’re paying a lot of credit card interest, call your lender and ask to negotiate the interest rate. Little fees add up over the course of a year. But the good news is they’re some of the easiest things to trim from your budget.
Assess your food situation
If you find yourself making lots of small trips to the grocery store, you can potentially save by making fewer trips and buying frozen or bulk items instead. Not only will you save time and gas, but you’ll also save money.
On the same note, if you dine out often you can save big bucks by preparing meals at home ahead of time. Be sure to stock up on sale items and keep an eye out for coupons.
And if you prepare a list of what you need before you go shopping, you won’t be as tempted to impulse buy once you get to the store.
Save as much as you can
If can you save $5 a week, you’d have $260 after a year ($5 x 52). And if you can save $20 a week, you’ll have over $1,000 this time next year!
Small amounts really do add up. Plus, when you form a habit to save even a little, you tend to stick to it. So not only are you creating smart money habits, but you’ll be able to watch your savings grow over time.
Increase your income
We have a handy list of side hustle opportunities on our Thinkflow website. If you find yourself needing more cash than expected, you can explore ways to quickly earn more cash.
Also consider taking classes to increase your skills and knowledge so you can ask for more money down the road. Investing in yourself is always a smart plan.
Finally, consider your long-term goals. If your current income isn’t enough to support what you’d like to accomplish, it might be time to rework your budget from the ground up with a relocation or new position. Big changes can lead to big gains!
Budget and save money bottom line
When it comes to budgeting and saving money, you get the biggest wins from trimming your largest budget items. From there, you can assess smaller charges, negotiate discounts, avoid fees, and explore other ways to save on things you often buy.
While you’re saving, see if you can set something aside. Even small amounts can form healthy financial habits for the future.
And check out Thinkflow for ideas on how to earn more income. We hope this guide helps you save.
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