When it’s time to tighten down and cut expenses, there are several steps to creating and managing an effective budget. It’s not hard to do, but it’s no fun either. While it’s essential to financial success to go over old statements and pinpoint problem areas to fix, there are other ways to be frugal. You will surely benefit from calling up utility companies or negotiating percentage rates with your creditors, but these painless budget tips, are a good start to saving some money. Best of all, they take minimal effort and don’t make too much of a dent in your personal lifestyle.
It’s tempting to try cutting out all fun when you are living on a budget. However, it’s important to consider what total abstinence will do to your long-term goals. Drastic changes to your routine will quickly grow tiresome. In no time, you will return to old habits. It’s much more beneficial to work rewards into your budget but use them sparingly. One way is to make a game out of it. If you usually buy Starbucks while you shop, for example, simply tell yourself not today. I like to come up with a number of times I say no before I have to say yes. If I treat myself every three times, that’s a decrease of 66%. Yay me! Budget tips like cutting back on splurges and impulse buys create positive change to your spending habits and keep some extra money in your pocket.
When you go shopping, have a number in mind of how much you want to spend. Start with that number on the calculator and stop when you get down to zero. This works best when you have a well thought out shopping list and plan on using coupons, but the important thing is to stick to your bottom line regardless of how well you are able to stretch it out. It’s a helpful tool in helping you weigh the pros and cons of grocery items in a tangible way that makes you choose more wisely. This is one of my favorite painless budget tips and I use it whenever I shop for more groceries. It helps in clearing your mind and setting priorities. It makes couponing easier because you know exactly what coupons to use.
This is frugal but also beneficial to your sanity. I don’t know about you but I can’t drive anywhere anymore without feeling like I’m taking my life into my hands. It seems like nobody pays attention anymore. So, not a single day goes by that I don’t have to do something to directly avoid an accident. Now with the holidays, there are more people than ever on there road and everyone seems impatient and distracted. Staying at home is healthy and potentially saves you on insurance premiums down the road.
However, there is another benefit to shopping online. Actually, there are two. Comparison shopping is easier than ever. You can find the best price within minutes and you don’t have to drive anywhere. Besides that, promo codes and coupons add further value. It’s not always the best choice, but at the very least you can find the best store to go to and cut down on other expenses. Plus, shipping to the store is always free so you never have to go to a store and wonder if they’ll have what you need..
Count on Leftovers
Make big meals that will result in leftovers. Casseroles, bakes, and lasagnas work best. What I love about leftovers is that you cut down on cooking time and dishes. It’s such a time and money saver because you limit your ingredients and reduce time meal planning. Plus, it comes with the benefits of ordering out, without paying more money. I’ve had some food delivery services in the past and found them unreliable and expensive. If you do this for convenience and find that it’s hurting your budget, consider making more food when you cook, so that you have it on hand for a few days. Another painless budget tips subdivision of this is to have a fruit bowl handy for grab and go healthy snacks throughout the week.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards
Painless budget tips don’t get any more painless than automatic discounts. You can get discounted gift cards in various ways and they effectively give you a dollar value that is greater than what you pay. One way to score some good gift cards at a discount is at Costco or Sam’s Club if you have a membership. You can also buy discount gift cards online at cardcash.com, ebates.com, or even eBay.