Start big, start small – but if you’re interested in saving money a budget is THE place to start. All but the most disciplined and frugal among us have some fat waiting to be trimmed from their monthly spending. Daily four dollar lattes are a commonly suggested scapegoat for an easily changed habit that will lead to huge savings (almost $1500 a year!) but many people have to look a bit further to find splurges to cut out and ways to economize.
When drafting a budget there are two ways to go about it – monitor your spending for a month or two and then look for areas to change, or look at your income and fixed expenses and set limits for various categories of spending. With either method your budget will likely be fairly malleable for the first few months until you get into a manageable grove.
In upcoming posts we’ll go over lots of options for coming up with, tracking, and sticking to a budget – but for now here are two super easy and low-tech budget plans.
Pick a few categories in which you would like to spend less than you currently are – they could be large sweeping categories such as “Groceries”, “Eating Out”, or more focused on your areas of weakness, for example “Make-Up”, “Lottery Tickets”, or “Fast Food.”
1) Put a certain amount of cash in an envelope market with each category and when it’s gone it’s gone – no more spending in that area until you refill the envelope the following month. Or,
2) Write your budget for each category on a piece of paper or index card and put it on the fridge (helpful if multiple people in the household are participating) or carry it with you. Each time you buy something write it down and subtract the amount spent from the total. Save all receipts if you’ll be updating the list when you get home. When you subtract an amount and it leaves you with zero you’ve made your final purchase in this area until next month.
Here is video from Bank of America on how to set-up a budget: