A Simile to Get Us Started!
Spending time working on your financial situation and budget is like going to the dentist. You know you should do it, but it’s just so much easier not to. You’re busy and having to sit still while a masked man pokes at your teeth with metal tools sounds more like a horror movie than good personal hygiene. So you put off your visit, live your life, and hope for the best. This works out great until your tooth starts aching and you start to regret not scheduling that visit. Now, instead of some extra focus on flossing, you’re facing a full blown root canal and the fix looks painful and expensive!
Four Out of Five Dentists Agree: You Need to Take a Look at Your Financial Situation
Okay, we’re going to move past the dentist analogy, but hopefully you get the picture. It’s worth spending the hour it takes to look at your financial situation and sketch out a plan. However, there are two main reasons why people put off spending the time to get their finances in order:
- They believe it will take too long
- The process sounds painful and confusing
Let us eloquently rebuff each point: It doesn’t take much time and it is actually pretty simple. If you don’t already budget then you probably don’t believe me, but we promise it’s the truth and we’ll prove it.
Figuring Out Your Budget is Simple
How much money did you make last month? How much money did you spend last month? Subtract the amount you made from the amount you spent and you’ve got your savings/deficit. Let’s do an example together.
Take Home Income
- $2,000 take home pay
- $200 babysitting
Money That I Spent
My savings/deficit = $2,000 + $200 – $2,500 = -$300. What does this mean? I need to either spend $300 less or make $300 more to sustain my current lifestyle. If you find that you are saving more than you’re spending each month, great work! We recommend coming up with a plan for how to use those savings. Perhaps you’ll use some savings to pay down outstanding debts or build an emergency fund.
If you’re budget yields a deficit, it’s no time to panic – you even have a choice! You simply need to either 1) make more money or 2) spend less. Each option is easier than you think once you take a moment to assess your situation. If you don’t feel like spending less, then you check out our post titled “Earn $1,000 Per Month in Your Spare Time, Seriously”. If you don’t feel like putting in the effort to more money then you’ll have to spend less. The good news is that spending less is easy, and it’s unlikely you’ll have to sacrifice your lifestyle to meet your budget goals.
5 Easy Ways to Spend Less Money
The average person can easily balance their budget without feeling cheap or drastically changing their lifestyle. We’ve compiled a list of 5 of the simplest ways to spend less that can have a profound effect on your budget. Think of these five items as the “flossing daily” of personal finance. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist!)
1) Make a list before going to the grocery store and stick to the list. You can easily cut out $25 per trip (equating to $100 per month) just by having a basic plan.
2) Make your own lunch once a week. It’s amazing how fast eating lunch out can add up. By making your own lunch just once a week you can easily save $50 per month.
3) Have dinner / drinks with friends at your home rather than going out once a month. You’ll have a ton of fun being around just the people you know and like, all while saving an easy $50-$100 on the restaurant bill / bar tab.
4) If you have credit card debt or a mortgage – request an interest rate reduction. You’ll be surprised at how often banks will be accommodating as they see it as an opportunity to impress you with their customer service and build the relationship.
5) Splurge monthly, not weekly. We all love to buy things for ourselves or our friends that we probably don’t need, but savings can really add up if you postpone just one or two of those purchases each month. If you’re looking for a way to simplify this process you’ve come to the right place. Use EarnSmart to automatically save up for a purchase – that way you can spend responsibly, while getting a great deal in the process.
There’s obviously countless more ways to save money, but these five should get you started. And don’t continue to assess your financial situation. We recommend that you spend 30 minutes per month checking out your progress, at a minimum. And don’t be afraid to download some other great apps like (e.g Mint) if you’re looking for a little more help.
Do you have any other exceptionally simple ways to save money that don’t cramp your lifestyle? Let us know!