Few people enjoy having to restrict their budgets. However, budgeting our funds is a necessary part of life. Whether you are trying to work yourself out of a financial struggle or you simply want to improve your spending habits, there are simple exercises you can take to progress your financial situation. Below are just a few things you can do to beat the budgeting blues.
Create a Goal
Budgeting is easier when you have a tangible goal to accomplish. Try creating a goal for yourself that is difficult but achievable. Perhaps you want to save for a trip, buy a new pair of shoes, or pay off student debt. Whatever the goal may be, you must have a set marker to work towards so that you can lay the groundwork to get there. Goalsetting plays a large role in success, so take the time to sit down and consider your options.
Buy What You Need First
There is a big difference between needs and wants. If you’d like to achieve certain goals, it is essential that you cut out some of the fat of your budget. If you have a budgeting app like Mint, you can quickly analyze your finances based on your financial history to see just how much you spend on all areas of your budget. You may be shocked to see how those small expenses add up. Once you have a big picture of your purchase habits, you can start to minimize excess spending. Start by listing your needs, from most expensive to least. Perhaps you have a mortgage to pay, rent, car payment, or loan payments. Then list a realistic but comprehensive budget for groceries, and finally, list other monthly expenses such as subscriptions to Netflix, the New Yorker, and other entertainment features. When you list your expenses from largest to smallest, you can start choosing what you do and do not need or want.
Save Any Bonuses or Tax Returns
When anyone receives a tax return or Christmas bonus, it is oh so tempting to turn around and spend it right away. However, this isn’t the route you should take if you’re trying to save money. Sometimes the best way to celebrate extra money is to pretend you didn’t get it, and instead divert it to savings or to a separate account that you are using to reach a goal. If your goal is to pay off debt quickly, it may be wise to use at least a large portion of that money toward your bill payment.
Consider a Second (or Third) Job
It may not be convenient, but the answer to earning extra income is simple: pick up another job. Even if you have a small job, such as babysitting on Friday nights, or tutoring every Monday evening, you will start to see your budget improving. Perhaps even a small amount will be enough to stow away in a jar to keep as extra spending money separate from your main source of income. One popular option for many people is to become a Lyft or Uber driver. The process to becoming a driver of either of these companies is simple: you will typically have to complete an application, get your car professionally inspected, and pass a background check. Drivers come in all ages ethnicity, and backgrounds. From retirees to college students, Uber and Lyft drivers are finding this route a comfortable way to make a living.
Sell Your Old Stuff
Do a little spring cleaning—it will open up your home and bolster your budget. This isn’t easy for everyone, but parting with the things you no longer use or need can make all the difference in the extra money you accrue. All of that cleaning has probably been on your mind for a while, so why not start now to free your mind and your wallet? This can range from small items that you can pawn off for cash on Letgo.com all the way up to large ticket items like cars. Have a clunker that’s sat in your driveway for far too long? Selling a car fast is easy with online buyers and you can gain some quick cash toward a new car or other goal. There are plenty of ways to make cash on your unused items, and decluttering your life can provide some major mental health benefits.