Use these tips to help manage your money
Most of us go through periods of living on a limited budget whether we are in the midst of changing careers or facing other challenges in life. Learning to manage your money is an important life skill that can benefit you even when you are financially stable. Try these tips to help stretch your dollars. You may not even miss some of the things you think you can’t live without!
Make a budget
The first step toward living on a budget is to create the budget. It is helpful to write down every expense you make for several months to see exactly where your money goes. You may be surprised at how the little things add up.
Your budget should include your income—so you know how much you can spend each month—and your expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, phone, cable, gas, groceries, entertainment, etc.) If your expenses exceed your income, you need to make cuts.
Take a look at this article from TheBalance.com of the Top 9 Personal Budget Software Apps for 2017 for some apps to keep your budget on track.
Use credit cards wisely
Credit cards can come in handy and help build your credit score, but they are often abused. Never spend more than you can pay off each month or the debt could take years to pay off. If you can’t trust yourself, use cash or a debit card to make purchases.
Think before you buy
A good rule is to think about purchases for 24 hours before buying. If you still think it’s good idea and can fit into your budget, then you buy it.
Buy and sell used goods
If you need something, why not see if a friend or family member already has it, so you could borrow or trade for something they need? Not only will you save money, but you could bring new life to something that wasn’t being used.
If no one has what you need, check thrift stores or websites like Craigslist.com, which provides a list of items for sale by owner, or Freecycle.org, that lists people giving away items for free.
If you have household items or clothing you no longer use, consider selling them. Websites, like Letgo, Bookscouter, or Thredup, will help you consign your items. Often you can receive more money with these types of websites if you use your earnings to buy other’s items from them.
Find cheap entertainment
You work hard, you need some time off. Entertainment can cost a lot and eat up your budget. However, if you get a little creative, you can find ways to enjoy your time off on the cheap. Check out your local newspaper or local event websites to find out what free events are happening. Or head to a local library, which often provides free programming. Even a walk around a park can provide a much-needed break and not cost a dime. No matter where you go, ask if they give a student discount.
Slay your grocery bill
Buying your food is cheaper than eating out all the time. If you’re on the go, packing your lunch can save you money. However, the grocery bill is often another large expense. To save the most money, check out store circulars and think about meals you can make with items on sale. Make your list before you go to the store to minimize impulse buys. You can find coupons ahead of time as well as on websites like coupons.com or in the newspaper. Also look at store brands, which are cheaper and typically made by brand-name food companies but just packaged for the store.
Commit to saving
Whether you gather spare change and put it in a savings account once a year or get an extra job where you can put a portion away, try and save some money, even $10 a month, for emergencies or unexpected needs. Like the budget apps mentioned above, here is an article from Gizmodo with some great money saving apps.
Living on a budget can be frustrating. But if you stick with it not only will you lower your stress but in the long run, you will train yourself to make better financial choices.
This post is part of The Salter School’s weekly blog where we provide lifestyle tips to help support our students. If you are interested in our career training programs, please explore our options, request more information, schedule a tour, or call a career advisor at our Malden, MA, campus at 781-324-5454 or Fall River, MA, campus at 508-730-2740.