Tips for living on a budget that won’t make you miserable
Here at Consumers, we love to help you save money. One way to do that is to set a budget. Budgeting shows you how much money you can allocate to housing expenses, food, entertainment, and the rest of your spending categories each month.
We know that many people dislike the idea of budgeting, because they think that if they put their spending habits on paper, they’ll have to give up the splurges they enjoy: hobbies, dinners out, the occasional latte. But budgeting shouldn’t make you miserable. Ideally, it helps you cut back your spending on the things that don’t matter to you so that you have more money for the things that do. Creating a budget is simply about prioritizing where you want your money to go.
Here’s how to create a budget that makes you feel good.
1. Make a list of goals.
Paying off debt and saving for the future are important components of any budget. Set specific goals for yourself to stay excited about your progress. For instance, what will you be able to do when you’ve paid off your credit card debt? Or perhaps your big goal is saving up to buy a house. Even smaller goals, like working up to stashing a certain percentage of your check in your 401(k) each week can keep you motivated.
2. Become a bargain hunter and add your savings to a “Fun Fund”.
When you’re doing your regular shopping, keep track of the money you save by using coupons and seeking out sales—money you’d otherwise be spending. Reward yourself for taking the time to cut expenses by adding the savings to a “Fun Fund” that you can use for a special activity or purchase. Or put the extra money toward the financial goals you set to help you reach them even faster.
3. Cut the clutter.
Have old furniture or clothing just taking up space in your home? Have an end of summer yard sale or start listing it on Craigslist or eBay. The money you make can go toward replacements or your savings.
While you’re getting your home organized, consider doing the same for your email inbox. Do you really need the dozen special offer emails you wake up to each morning? If they’re just tempting you to spend money you otherwise wouldn’t, start unsubscribing.
4. Make saving automatic.
You’ve probably heard this from us before, but here it is again. When you make saving a habit by setting up automatic transfers, you’ll learn to not even miss the money you’re stashing.