Are you experiencing a period of financial hardship? It’s something that most people go through at some point in their lives. Did you know that there are tons of steps you can take to help get your finances back to where you want them to be? If you’re looking for ways to bring your budget back in line, you’ll love these everyday hacks we’ve assembled to help your current financial situation.
Make a budget: Getting a budget together is one of the most important things to do if you want to change your financial situation. And before you make a budget, you need to know exactly how much money you’re spending on what. To do this, for one month you need to write down every single expense you have. Cash, check, and credit expenses need to be tracked. You can track it in a spreadsheet, in a notebook; it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you write down everything you spend.
At the end of that month, you’ll have to sort everything into categories, such as:
You’ll have to define your own categories that make sense for your exact situation. Then sort every expense into the appropriate category and add up the total amount in each category.
Congratulations! You’ve made your budget for the previous month!
We don’t want that though, we want a budget for the upcoming months. To create your new budget, simple decide how much money you want to spend in each category, but make sure the total is less than the amount of money you bring in every month. You may have to make some new categories, like Savings. If you’re like many people, you’ll want to move money away from categories like Take Out or Entertainment and into Loans or Savings.
Now, you have to continue writing down all your expenses and putting them in the appropriate category to stay on budget. Don’t worry if it takes a few months and some adjusting to really get into the swing of things. The important thing is tracking expenses and changing your budget as necessary.
Eliminate unplanned purchases: The next time you’re surfing the web or browsing at the store, when you feel the impulse to buy something, stop for a second. Ask yourself if you really need it. Chances are you don’t. If you do decide you need it, click away or put it back down. When you get home, take a look at your budget and see if you can afford it, which may involve shuffling some things around. Never make a purchase without planning for it. This is easier to achieve if you’ve got someone else to help keep you accountable. A great way to eliminate unplanned purchases at places you go regularly, like the grocery store, is to always shop with a list.
A really effective way to eliminate unplanned purchases is to think about how many hours’ worth of work it would take to pay for it. Paying $60 for something might not seem like a big deal. But if that means you are working three to six hours to afford it, it can really change your perspective on things.
Reduce fixed expenses: When’s the last time you shopped around for new insurance? When did the introductory rate on your internet expire? A great way to make lasting changes to your budget is to reduce fixed expenses like utilities. Sometimes this involves looking for a new insurance company. Other times it’s as simple calling up your internet provider and saying you aren’t happy with your bill. Some of the fixed expenses you can try and reduce are:
- Cellphone Plan
Stop paying full price for things: Partially related to the above, you can avoid paying sticker price for all sorts of things. Sometimes you’ll have to negotiate, like with a car salesman. Sometimes you can just ask for a discount, like with your internet provider. Sometimes you’ll have to find a coupon, either in the mail or online. There are even services you can subscribe to and browser plugins you can install that will help you find coupons. You can also ask your credit card company to reduce your rate.
Find small ways to save: Try the Jar Method. The Jar Method involves two components. The first thing you’ll need to do is start paying cash for as many purchases as possible. This in itself will help reduce your expenses when you actually feel the money leaving your hand. The second component is the jar. At the end of the day, take all your change and put it in a conveniently-placed jar. Once the jar is full, take it down to the bank and deposit it in a savings account. Some other great ways to generate small savings are:
- Eat out one or two times less per week
- Make your coffee at home
- Get an automatic savings app
- Repair things instead of throwing them away
- Monitor your heat and a/c closely
Find ways to reduce loan payments: When you make payments on your loans every month, are you doing anything other than paying mounds of interest and chipping away at the principal? Not only does that mean it’ll take you a long time to ultimately pay off your debt, but it can be extremely disheartening. By looking into ways to refinance you can reduce the amount you pay each month. If you’re worried about credit card debt, you can save money on interest by doing a balance transfer. There are even some companies that will give you zero interest on your transferred balance.
Financial struggles can be disheartening and stressful. Fortunately, there are some simple, everyday hacks you can use to help improve your financial situation. You can implement these strategies to help you get your budget back on track, even if a recent financial emergency has caused things to go off the rails.