When you’re on a budget, living within your means is vital. Some people have to live within a strict budget just to get by. Others choose to budget so that they can put more money aside for savings or debt repayments.
Whatever your reason for budgeting, make the decision that you can only spend a certain amount every week or every day. This can really help you find new ways to save money everywhere. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions:
Working out your budget
Plan what you will spend for the month ahead once you have paid all the essential bills and household expenses. These expenses will usually take the largest slice out of your budget.
You could put the money for essentials somewhere safe, so you can’t accidentally spend it. There is a bank account alternative that can do this for you – how the account works is it puts the money for your priority bills into a separate account, so you have to live on what you have left over. It can help you to get strict with your budget.
When you have a budget, you know you have a fixed amount to live on for the month. But it takes careful planning to stick to that amount, so you need to be prepared and plan what you will spend every day. Ask yourself:
- How will you travel?
- What will you eat?
- What will you drink?
- What treats can you afford?
- What can you afford to do socially?
- Can you put any money into savings?
Cut out the waste
Think about things you do that are wasteful, such as throwing away uneaten food, buying ready-made meals when it’s often cheaper to cook from scratch, driving the car when you could walk, making impulse purchases that you don’t need, or buying magazines or newspapers when you could get the same information for free online.
To keep yourself motivated with your new frugal lifestyle, you could try to book in a social event or treat, or do something you enjoy (like a hobby) at least once a week/month, depending on the cost. Done properly, living frugally on a budget shouldn’t make you feel deprived. Your social event doesn’t need to be champagne cocktails – it could simply be going to a friend’s house for a meal, taking your kids to your mum’s house for the day or attending an evening class in something that interests you.
Making the most of what you have available
If evening courses are ‘your thing’, could you take a class in something that will save you money? If you’re into DIY, you could take a course in plastering, painting and decorating or interior design so you can make changes to your home yourself, instead of paying someone to do that for you.
There is sometimes funding available for adult classes and study, so find out if you’re eligible.
If you have children, you could ask friends or relatives if they can help with your childcare – and you can return the favour or offer some kind of help in return.
When you’re buying presents, it’s tempting to blow the budget. A good way to save money is to be more imaginative about what you give. Could you make something, take a fantastic photo and frame it, offer to help with gardening, or throw a party at your home?
Ultimately, living on a budget means making savings wherever you can. Once you start on the path to low-cost living, you can let your creativity run wild and try new ways to watch the pennies. And your bank balance will thank you!
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