You do not need to be a financial expert to be able to carefully and wisely plan and stretch your budget if you do not want to subsist from paycheck to paycheck. It does not really matter whether you belong to the six-digit-figure or the minimum wage earner, you simply need to identify your expenditures and which to prioritize. Do away with struggling to make both ends meet.
Consider these steps in the diligent monitoring of your hard-earned money:
Stay out of debt. Easy to do if you live within your means. Say goodbye to credit cards as these may get you deeper into debt especially if you cannot manage your spending. A swiped credit card is money spent even before you earned it. Instead, save up until you can already afford to pay in cash, you will rid yourself of unnecessary interest payments.
Budget your budget. Make a list of your constant expenses – food, utilities, gasoline, mortgage payments/rent (if any), educational plans, etc. Money should be set aside for these and if you have extra left after the constants, you can either save it for future purchases or use for contingencies. Do not touch the money set aside for the fixed payables, otherwise you will be forced to take out a loan and you now have additional burden to worry about.
Look for frugal options. You can apply this when doing your groceries. Buy only the basics and do not over-stock lest you end up throwing away unopened expired items — that is hard-earned money down the drain. Another option would be to avail of sale/buy 1 take 1 items, provided you really have use for it.
Join a Co-op. Join a neighborhood co-op where you are entitled to membership discounts, items come cheaper in co-ops than those found in big supermarkets. These co-ops may even have incentives like earning points for your purchases and are then convertible to cash which you can use to pay for your next purchase.
Buy in Bulk. Even on a budget you can buy in bulk, and ask your friends to split up the cost. This is one way to save up on non-perishable items which could last for months and you can use your savings here for other items that you had to do without.
Do Flea-Market Shopping. You will be surprised to find items that you need that are well within your budget, in flea markets. Doing the rounds could also do you some good as a stress-reliever.
Open a bank account. This is a most wise move for the budget-conscious. Saving up for the rainy days. It is a given that when you know how to manage your finances, you will never be cash-strapped. Put your mid-year and year-end bonuses in the bank, the safest place to keep your money. Money begets money, so they say, every penny saved is also a penny earned. Bank interests may not be substantial, yet, added on to your initial deposit will make your money grow. More importantly, your purchasing power is enhanced when you have money in the bank as it will afford to buy you an asset that would give you stability.
It may be a struggle learning how to budget and if you do not have a plan, your money will quickly disappear as you try to cover your fixed expenses. But once you get the hang of it, budgeting can be one of your strongest money management tools. Know when to cut back and enjoy a stress-free life even on a budget.