Living on a budget, especially a limited budget, can be difficult at times. For people to manage this successfully, they need to be able to stay as organized as possible. Having decent math skills doesn't hurt either. Below are some tips that anyone can use to budget better, regardless of their monthly income and expense amounts.
Know Your Monthly Income and Fixed Expenses
Are you on a fixed income or is your income about the same amount each month? If so, it should be fairly easy to calculate how much money you have to spend on expenses each month. Of course, you will also need to know your monthly expenses, which can be a little thicker than finding out your monthly income, as most people have more sources of expenses (bills, groceries, childcare), than they have sources of income.
Start by writing down all of your fixed expenses; these are expenses that are the same every month, like rent, phone bills, and cable. Next move onto expenses that can vary, these usually include things like water, heat, and electric bills. When it comes to these ever-changing bill amounts, try to take an average. You can do this by looking at the bill statements for the past few months and averaging those. If this sounds too difficult to do by hand, try using an online budget calculator.
Once you have all of your expenses figured out, subtract that amount from your monthly income. This will show how much money you should have left at the end of each month. You can use this money to pay extra on some bills (like credit cards and mortgages) to reduce the number of total payments you will need to make. This can help to save more money in the long run, as you will spend less time paying off interest.
Make Grocery Lists in Advance
Another way to save a little extra money is to write up a grocery list ahead of time. Sometimes when people go to the store without a list, they might grab whatever looks tasty-- AKA, buying things they don't really need. At the same time, they might forget to buy something that they do need, which could result in needing to take another trip to the grocery store, which can cost extra money in gas, even if you don't end up buying extra things at the store when you go the second time.
To save even more money, try to buy things that are on sale at the store. However, note that this doesn't mean buying things that are not on your list just because they are on sale. Believe it or not, this could end up costing you extra money in the long run.
If you don't naturally have an eye for noticing what is or isn't on sale, try cutting out coupons instead. You can find these in newspapers and magazines. There are also many websites that offer free coupons to stores all over the country. When using coupons, especially for something you haven't bought before or for a new brand, make sure to compare the sale price with the item you would usually get. After all, coupons are meant to help you save money, not trick you into spending more by buying a new product for more money than your old product costs.
Get New Insurance Quotes
Are you overpaying for your insurance? One of the best ways to find out is to try to get insurance quotes from a variety of insurance agencies. Many big-name insurance companies, like Progressive, offer a service that will compare your potential insurance payments with other companies. This can apply to both car and homeowner's insurances, especially if the insurance company you pick offers insurance bundling.
By finding the least expensive rates that still cover everything you need, you can save up to hundreds of dollars or more each year. This can go a long way when it comes to stretching your budget.
Sticking to a budget can be hard, but these tips can help you to save money each month. Try them all out to save the most money. Have fun saving or spending whatever money you have leftover at the end of the month!