It is the beginning of the year and you have decided to finally stick to a monthly budget. The way unexpected bills seem to hit it’s more important than ever to stick to a monthly budget. The following tips should help you stay on your budget.
1. Quarterly Bills
When preparing your budget, ensure you are putting enough back to pay all of your bills since some of your bills may not come every month. Auto insurance may be paid every three months and you want to ensure you are putting enough up to pay all of these bills.
2. Start a Savings Account
If possible, set a specific amount to be sent to your savings account if you use direct deposit. This way the money will be put aside automatically. This will certainly help you save money for those large expenses that often gobble up your paycheck and leaving broke. With a savings account you won’t need a loan when you find yourself in that I need money panic that unexpected bills bring.
3. Budget for Couple Time
Set up an allowance for yourself and your spouse. Learn to make it through the week with this set amount. If you run out of funds for lunch, start taking your lunch. By having an allowance, you will soon learn where you have been spending all of your money each week. After you start missing a few lunches out due to spending your allowance on Starbucks, you will learn to manage your allowance a bit better.
4. Keep Receipts
At the end of the week, you can see where you and your spouse are spending every dime. Now, you can sit down together and learn what items can be cut out of your spending habits without changing your lifestyle completely. You may only be able to go to Starbucks twice per week or start buying pounds of your favorite coffee and making it at home. It will certainly be cheaper to enjoy a cup of your coffee at home than stopping to purchase one on the way to work. It may even give you some quality time at home before heading off to work.
5. Meal Planning
Plan your meals by the week. Sit down and plan what meals you will be preparing at home. Create your grocery list and then go shopping. Use coupons or even use the weekly sales bill from your grocery store to plan the meals for the week. Once you begin buying items in bulk instead of one meal at a time, you will see quite a bit of savings on food. Smaller packages of meat are often more expensive than larger ones. All you have to do is divide the meat and freeze for future meals. You may learn that you are saving more money on food as you can buy large packages of meat that might be spread out over two weeks since you will not want to eat the same meat every night.
6. Set Goals
Start with something small such as a night out at your favorite restaurant with your spouse. Next, go to the harder goals such as paying off a credit card or saving to purchase a new car. Setting goals will help you feel good about staying on your budget; however, if you set your goals too high and it takes several months to reach the goal, you may become discouraged. Start small so you can enjoy the benefits of saving money.
7. Spoil Yourself
Remember it is okay to spoil yourself once in a while. If you have cut your favorite stop for a shake or going to the movies to save money, it is still all right to enjoy this treat. Just do not go overboard. Decide how many times you can spend your “mad money” on a movie each month. Allow your spouse to do the same.