I think we’ve all been there at some time or another. We pay our bills and wonder “where did all the money go?” In these tough economic times budgets are stretched to the limit. Here are some practical tips that can help you save money and stay focused on your budget:
1. Have a clearly defined budget.
The best way to stick to a budget would be to have a clearly defined one, that means it needs to be written down. Know how much you want to spend on everything every month. Call it a spending plan to make it more fun. Prepare your plan for spending and then stick to it. In case you overspend on something, make up for it by cutting back elsewhere.
2. Careful with those credit cards.
Carry only one or two credit cards (or better still, none) with you and use them as sparingly as possible. Only charge those purchases you can pay off fully in the next month.
3. Utilize Rewards programs when available.
Get a card with a rewards program so that whenever you use your card you end up earning points which can be redeemed for discounts or freebies.
4. Shop during sales.
Make it a habit to shop only at sales. My goal is to never pay more than 50% of the retail price. Buy your Christmas and birthday gifts when clearance sales are going on. Target and Walmart have huge discounts on toys after Christmas, so stock up for the following Christmas and for birthdays throughout the year.
5. Buy secondhand to save money.
Put your mother’s ‘old is gold’ advice to good use. Garage sales, second hand cars, electrical equipment, cell phones etc. are great as long as you manage to find them in good condition.
6. Eat the majority of your meals at home.
Eating out frequently is a huge waste of money. Not only do you pay exorbitant prices for the food, but with the taxes, tips and everything included, it does add up to quite a bit. Eat at home as much as possible, and save yourself loads of money.
7. Carpool to work or when dropping your kids off at school.
Avoid taking the car if you only have a few blocks to go. Walking or public transportation can be great alternatives.
8. Make a grocery list every time you go shopping.
It seems like such a simple thing to do, but having a written grocery list can help to keep your budget in check. Prepare your menu ahead of time and make your grocery list from that.
9. Look for deals, coupons, and specials before you buy anything.
Look for deals and promotional offers before you buy anything. Apply this principle wherever possible- right from plane tickets to when ordering pizza.
10. Avoid shopping on impulse.
Give yourself a day to think before you indulge yourself in something expensive. You may change your mind if you rationally think about whether you actually really need it.
11. DIY is a great way to save money.
Learn to do basic repairs around the house. Start a garden in your backyard. Paint the walls yourself instead of hiring someone.
12. Set reminders to pay all your bills on time.
Late fees and extra charges on your bills are unnecessary expenditure and are best avoided.