7 Ways to Stretch Your Budget - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

7 Ways to Stretch Your Budget

There’s no worse feeling than working hard each week, only to be left scraping for pennies by the end of the month. No matter your salary, chances are that there are ways you can trim your spending so that you can make your money go further for longer.

Check out these seven tips to stretch your budget.

1. Track Your Money

The best way to stretch your budget is to actually know where your money is going. Before you can figure out what you need to change, you want to have a good idea of what you’re spending your money on. In an age run by plastic, it’s so simple to swipe our cards and go about our lives. The days of balancing a checkbook with pen and paper are long gone, which has caused a huge disconnect that’s led to excessive spending.

If you want your money to stretch, you need to keep a close eye on your expenditures. For 30 days, write down everything you spend money on. You can also use a mobile app like Mint, which tracks your spending habits.

At the end of the month, look at where your money went and what you bought. You may be surprised at how much your $5 morning latte is costing each month. Being able to see your spending habits can be quite eye-opening and may spur smarter money choices.

2. Trim Your Budget

While not many people like to do it, creating a budget is one of the most practical things you can do if you want to stretch your money. Creating a budget isn’t exciting, but when you fail to plan how your money will be spent, you’re more likely to purchase things you don’t need. A budget should serve as a road map for achieving your financial goals.

Budgeting can be quite daunting at first, but once you get the basics down, it’s not as bad as it seems. To create a budget, you’ll need to track:

  • Your income
  • Your expenses
  • Where your dollars are going

Having something as simple as a balance sheet gives you more control and oversight as to where your money is going. By having a budget you can figure out ways to trim costs so that your money goes further each month.

3. Switch to Using Cash

Swiping a debit or credit card is easy, and it doesn’t require us to keep track of how much we’re spending and where. But if you really want to stretch your monthly funds, try switching to cash. You can continue to pay your bills using online banking, but for daily life, go green!

By paying only cash for your daily expenses, you’ll quickly re-learn the value of money. If you’ve only got $20 a day to spend, you may re-think spending $4 on a cup of coffee or eating out for lunch.

Being able to visually see your funds deplete can be a shocking experience!

4. Get a Financial Advisor

What better way to make your money go further than by working with a financial professional? What’s nice about having a financial advisor is that they can help with a broad range of money situations.

Maybe you want to boost your savings account while paying down debt. Or you may be interested in investing your money and getting the highest return. You can even consult with one to help with smart budgeting and financial decisions!

A financial advisor is beneficial in every stage of life. No matter if you’ve just landed your first job, are starting a family, or have purchased your first home. You can use the Careful Cents site to compare the best financial advisors in Orlando. You can also find a financial advisor at a local bank or credit union.

5. Use Shopping Lists

Going to the mall or the grocery store without a list of items to be can be tempting. It’s all too easy to fall victim to impulse buys, picking up items you don’t need but get them because they seem like a good deal.

To minimize frivolous spending, create a shopping list before you head to a store. This way you can walk in, buy what you need, and walk out. Of course, having a list doesn’t keep you from buying other items, but it does at least give you guidelines for which aisles you need to visit, versus aimlessly walking around the store.

6. Checkout Mobile Money Saving Apps

Simply having a home can save you tons of money! There are all sorts of mobile and online apps that exist for the simple purpose of saving you money. Using these apps you can save money on groceries, household items, clothing, and more. Some of the top money-saving apps include:

  • Honey
  • Ibotta
  • RetailMeNot
  • Checkout 51

What’s nice about these apps is that they’re effortless to use. You can save money at some of your favorite retailers including Target, Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot, and hundreds of others.

7. Live Greener

Making energy-efficient life choices not only benefit the planet, but they can also benefit your wallet. At home, switch to using ENERGY STAR appliances, which can save you hundreds a year. You can also save money by turning off lights, unplugging unused small appliances, and taking quicker showers.

Outside of your home, you can enjoy more savings by using public transportation or carpooling. Making green changes will keep more green in your pocket!

Conclusion

You work hard for your money, and by making a few simple changes, you can make your money work hard for you! Keep these seven tips in mind if you want to stretch your dollars further each month.





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