I’ve had money troubles in the past. I’ve gone way into debt and had to climb myself out. I’ve overspent and underbudgetted and really had to learn how to save properly.
It takes discipline and organization, but I believe anyone can learn to save, budget, and organize their finances. These are some tips that I followed to manage my own finances better and start saving money.
1. Use Cash
I strongly believe one of the best ways to budget and improve one’s finances is to switch from using credit to cash. When you spend money on a credit card it’s hard to keep track of how much you are spending. However, if you leave your credit cards at home and stick to cash, you are always aware of exactly how much money you are able to spend.
2. Budget an amount of cash for yourself over a period of time
Whether it’s on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly schedule, budget an amount of cash for that time period. Then at the beginning of the period withdraw the amount of cash. Now you have your budget for the time. I find this helps me not only visualize how much I can spending, but it also helps me plan ahead. I can visually see how much money I have left to spend. If I one week into my monthly budget and I’ve spent almost all my cash, I’ve learned an important lesson for the next month. It really teaches how to manage your budget efficiently.
3. Cut Down on Eating Out
For me and many of the people that I talk too, eating out is one of the biggest monthly expenses. However, it’s also one of the easiest expenses to cut. I’ve made a habit of packing my lunch to work more often rather than eating out at lunch. It makes a huge difference in my budget and really doesn’t change my overall enjoyment and social interaction over lunch.
At the same time, I find that it’s healthier to eat in and that is a long term beneficial side effect.
4. Cut Down on Unnecessary Expenses
Sit down and look over your regular expenses. In particular take a look over your recurring expenses such as utilities, phone, tv, etc… Are there regular expenses that you don’t need?
Perhaps you have a gym membership that you only use in a blue moon. Or you subscribed to a large number of cable channels that you don’t need. These are some expenses that you may be able to cut down or eliminate entirely. Even if it’s a small amount, it adds up over time.
5. Cut Your Phone Bill
One expense that I’ve found unnecessary these days is my traditional phone. Having a landline through the phone company of the past is expensive and often unnecessary. Almost everyone has a cell phone these days I have quite a few friends who have cut out their landline entirely opting to use their cell phone as their primary phone.
The other option if you want to keep a landline is to switch to voip. These services are cheap and sometimes free and I find the quality just as good as my old landline.
6. Cut Your Cable or Satellite
I’m a strong proponent of cutting the cord on TV. I did it last year and haven’t looked back. I have a netflix subscription and I get local channels over the air for free. This covers my entertainment and news. Granted I miss some sports, but it also gives me a chance to visit the local pub if there is a good sports event on.
7. Cut Down on Expensive Hobbies
I have had some expensive hobbies. One of my favorite hobbies is keeping a salt water reef aquarium. But ifyou have any passing familiarity with the hobby, you’ll know that it can be expensive. I’ve learned to cut down on my expenses by shopping around more and buying used equipment and trading for fish and corals instead of spending a lot of money. When money is really tight, I’ve even taken a break from the hobby.
8. Pick up a Hobby that Makes Money
On the flip side of cutting down on expensive hobbies, I’ve picked a hobby that makes money: blogging! I find there are a lot of fun hobbies that one can enjoy and make money on the side. You can support your own hobby and even earn extra spending cash if you have the right interest. The key is to find something you enjoy because you can burn yourself out if you treat it as a second job. If you have a hobby in some kind of craft, perhaps you can create something to sell. If you like to write, you can try your hand at self publishing or blogging. Do you like computers? Maybe you can freelance in the technical area. I think there are a lot of ways that you can enjoy yourself and still have fun.
9. Clip Coupons for Deals
One great way to save money on necessities is to keep an eye out for coupons. I find that my weekend newspaper often has some good coupons on household items that I buy on a regular basis. Keeping an eye out for these coupons and making sure that I use them regularly really saves me a ton of money on household items.
10. Pay Off Your Credit Cards
Don’t get stuck with interest charges on credit cards. Paying less than the full amount on when your credit card bill is due is one way to wrack up a ton of interest charges. I remember many years ago I charged up thousands on my credit card and I could pay it off. I was making minimum payments for a time before I had to negotiate a settlement with my credit card company. When they broke down the numbers for me, the total was $12,000, but over $5,000 was interest. That’s huge! When you get into a situation where you can’t make the full amount or you miss payments, the interest begins to add up at an incredible rate. Don’t get into that situation like I did. Pay off your credit card bills every month and you can save yourself tons of money.
Many of these lessons are things that I had to teach myself after getting stuck in a bad debt situation. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I was able to improve my financial situation. No matter how bleak the situation, there is a way to get back into the positive. Just stay positive, disciplined and organized and you will slowly improve your financial situation. You can turn even the worst situation around.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need more help, you can turn to a professional as well to help you negotiate your debt. There are many debt management professionals that can assist you such as Fresh Start UK.
The most important thing is to stay positive. You’ll notice that the tips I give up above are not overly extreme. I leave room for you to still enjoy yourself while saving money. I don’t think that you need to overly punish yourself in order to save money. I practiced these tips above to improve my financial situation and I was able to enjoy myself and stay positive at the same time. Trust that you can turn things around and start to practice these money saving tips and keep in mind that there is also help available if you need it.
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