Budgeting your Money – Living on Less (than you are used to)
With the price of everything going up, it’s almost unthinkable for anyone to be asked to live on less. And yet that’s exactly what most of us are being asked to do. Many Americans have lost their jobs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. If you are among those who have, our hearts go out to you.
No doubt you appreciate the stimulus checks that the government has been giving out. But truth be told, it still isn’t enough. It’s not enough for recurring expenses, let alone emergencies.
But all hope isn’t lost. Did you know you can live on less and actually be happier? Yes you can. We found a few tips that can help you do just that.
Take an audit of your expenses
The first step is to figure out how and what you are spending your money on. This is simple; you need to have a record of how much money you have coming in and a list of items you spend on.
This should be easy if you are the type that keeps receipts for purchases. But even if you don’t, do not despair. You can make an intelligent guess based on estimated prices or review your bank statement.
Add everything up. Now you know if you are spending less or more than what you have coming in.
Remove Unnecessary expenses
This is probably the most logical thing to do in difficult economic times. What people don’t realize is how much of their income goes into buying things they don’t actually need.
Learn to ask yourself, “Is this really a need?”
Replacing items that are still in good condition isn’t wise. You may also want to reduce or completely cut out eating out and ordering. Instead try making meals at home from scratch, this is usually cheaper.
You also need to get rid of any expensive habits you have developed.
Be careful not to cancel out items that may seem unnecessary but are actually basic needs, like modest entertainment.
Try consulting with family members. You may be surprised to find out that the things you thought they can’t live without can be forgone and vice versa. You want to be firm but also as flexible as you can be.
Now in your list, there are items that should definitely come first. Things like food, housing (rent or mortgage) and doctor’s fee should come on top of the list. If you are really tight on funds, make sure you make these payments first before you spend on other things
Only after you have covered the family’s main needs can you spend on other things.
Some people do this by setting up different savings accounts that are specifically meant for their basic needs. Any money received in their regular accounts is automatically paid into the savings account. Only after the full amount is paid can they spend the extra cash they have left.
Have you ever bought an item immediately you saw it only to realize later that it was going for less at a different seller’s?
There’s always someone selling something for less, if you take your time to check.
With most grocery stores posting their prices online, it couldn’t be easier to find out before you buy.
Look out for stores that have “buy one get one” offers or which stores are selling cheaply.
Another way to shop wisely is to buy in bulk. Most shops sell cheaper in bulk. A word of caution is to not stock perishable items that will end up getting spoiled and bringing you loses.
The need to save up cannot be overemphasized, especially now. Unexpected turns of events are creeping on us every day. Having some money saved up is one of the best things you can do to cushion yourself against emergencies.
Any money you have left should be kept away. It’s important to teach everyone in the family to save, including children. Remember that even a dollar that's put away for another day may be so valuable when tough times hit.
You may need to make adjustments to your budget from time to time. Be willing to change to accommodate new developments.
Living on a budget doesn’t sound like fun, but the end results are definitely worth it. And the steps we’ve seen here aren’t rocket science; they are something you can do.
Research has shown that once your basic needs are met, any extra income you have doesn’t really add to your happiness. So it's possible to be happier living on less. You may even have more quality time to spend with your family.
We understand that you may feel you need help to come up with a budget that fits your needs. We are here to help you strategize the right budget for you and your family.