In this consumer economy, many of us see "budgeting" as a dirty word - something reserved for the obsessive, parsimonious few who refuse to indulge themselves in life's pleasures. However, following a budget doesn't have to mean depriving yourself. Instead, it means ensuring your finance security by taking a few small but crucial steps in changing your daily habits. It is the time-tested way to save money in this challenging economy, and there are just a few basic guidelines to follow, the simple and time-tested ones that you learned from your Grandma.
Tip # 1: Don't squander your money on small items: We have all heard the hackneyed adage "a penny saved is a penny earned" and this rings particularly true for those of us who have a tendency not to realize how much seemingly small expenses can stack up. For example, don't be tempted to blow your money dining out on a regular basis and instead buy cheaper, healthier items from the grocery store that you can prepare at home. You will be amazed at how much you save by this alone, not to mention inches off your waistline. Before you know it, you will have hundreds of extra dollars in the bank each month for larger items you really need.
Tip #2: Compose a shopping list before going to the store: Most of us make this mistake of not carrying any written list while we are out at the store. As a result we end up wandering randomly around the store grabbing whatever catches our eye. Then you end up with 20 items in your cart instead of the 10 you originally intended to buy. On the other hand, if you get into the habit of compiling a shopping list, you will avoid temptation. This is particularly true for the grocery store. So next time you head to the store, be armed with a written shopping list, or if you don't like using pen and paper, simply put it on your phone. There are dozens of free apps for Android and iPhone that make the onerous task of making a list simple and painless.
Tip #3: If It's Broken, Don't Toss It: According to the theories of chaos and complexity, it is a universal law that if something can break, it will. Your shirt collar will rip, your car won't start, or your computer will die out at some point. This is particularly true for the myriad gadgets we have around the house. And in this disposable society, it's a lot easier to throw things in the waste bin than repairing them. What do you do if your computer printer doesn't start? Do you promptly throw it in the garbage and buy a new one? Consider instead taking a stab at fixing it - it may be the case that a ribbon is simply misaligned or a printer head is loose. You can easily troubleshoot the issues Googling common problems.Or for example, if your shirt collar rips, invest in a sewing kit instead of tossing the shirt in the Salvation Army bin. Try to learn repairing small things which you need on a daily basis to avoid buying a new piece all of a sudden going out of your budget. You may learn something in the process too!
Tip #4: Entertain Yourself with Low-Cost Options: Entertainment is a basic human need and if you are short on funds, you don't need to stop enjoying yourself. While you may not have money to splurge on a night on the town, there are other inexpensive options: Instead of going out for dinner at a steak house, why not Google some interesting recipes which you can cook from the ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Or instead of going to a movie theater, join Hulu or Netflix and watch your favorite movies from home while enjoying some microwave popcorn with friends.
Tip #5: Stay healthy to save money: Staying healthy is essential for innumerable reasons, but did you know it can also help you save money? Just think of all you can save if you can avoid insurance co-payments for doctor visits, hospital fees, and prescription medication bills. All you need to do is eat right, avoid eating out, quit smoking, and start exercising. You certainly can't avoid certain illnesses but these healthy habits will help you keep them at bay and avoid the expenses that come from general ill health. Just think how much you can save if you quit smoking alone!
It can be difficult to change ingrained lifestyle habits, but if you follow these general simple tips, with a little discipline you will be on your way to making huge changes in life and reaping the many rewards of financial security.