What's a great budgeting tip for the new year?
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I think it's really important to track your spending if you're not already doing so. I track every penny that is spent by our family and it helps us identify where the money is going and where we can cut back. It's also helps for planning purposes after you've done it over a period of time you can look back and see how much you've spent historically different time periods.
Get a copy of your banking transactions for the past 12 months. Go through and take a look at what you were spending and total everything up. This is a great way to see how much you're spending and where you can also cut back. It's a tool we use to not only get a better grip on our budget, but also to motivate us!
My best tip with budgeting would have to be to know the difference between wants and needs. Needs always come first in a budget. Needs are things you need to survive. Food, house, water, and clothes are needs, nothing else. everything else s a luxury or things that are nice to have. some things like a car is not a need but is high on our want list, so it is usually next in line on our list for our budget. But when you really remember your needs are 4 basic things the budget is much easier to stick to then when you think you NEED everything at all times.
Avoid impulse buying. Before making a purchase for a big ticket item. Ask yourself if you really need it and wait 24 hours before making the purchase.
With the New Year just around the corner, many of us are thinking about budget and resolutions. Although I think it is good to set goals and resolutions, don't overwhelm yourself. Make a list of priorities and budget items you would like to work on. Pick one or two things to focus on at first. Once you get a handle on those items, start working on the remainder of your goals. I find that being overly ambitious with budget goals can lead to disappointment and frustration. Make room for flexibility and reevaluate your budget throughout the year.
One of the things I will be trying this next year is using something until it can't be fixed or used any longer. In the past, I would sometimes buy something to replace an item that was older, but still usable. This is really just a matter of laziness. For instance, my 19 year old sewing machine needs some tweaking. However, recently, instead of taking the time to buy a few replacement parts, I went out and purchased an inexpensive new model. In one week's time, the new machine broke and I had to take it back. Thankfully, I was given a refund, which made me realize that, for a small fraction of the money, I could have bought a few new parts, put a little effort into fixing my old machine, and had one that was still better quality than the new one! So my motto for the new year will be to use it up, until it can't be used any more. Then, I can justify spending money, and not feel guilty.
Create a spreadsheet and keep track of everything you purchase. When you see it in black and white you are more aware of what you are spending and will see what you need to cut back on. It works!
Set a goal for yourself in regards to couponing that is 1 step higher than what you are doing right now. That means, if you are new to couponing, set a goal of getting 1 freebie or super cheap item a week. Once you feel comfortable with that, add a few more free or super cheap items to the list. Start with deals that are easy. Once you have mastered the easy deals, then add some more complicated deals, maybe that involve a rebate, catalina or drugstore rewards coupon. Add a few more deals to your shopping list each month, as you feel comfortable, and by the end of next year you will be paying much less for your groceries than you did this year. If you have already mastered your grocery store, move onto a drugstore. If you have mastered 1 drugstore, then move onto another.
Start small, and add deals and stores as you feel comfortable!!!
Challenge yourself and set goals for grocery spending - then try to exceed the goal! Make it fun, and you'll be surprised how much you can cut down your grocery bill!
Keep a spreadsheet and at the end of each month check out how much you saved - at the end of the year you'll see what a great job you did and how easy it really was when you are watching it that way!
Plan ahead. Whenever you are shopping, be it for gifts or for necessities, always plan ahead. It can be as simple as a list to remind yourself of what you need to get. Or it can be as involved as bringing your coupon binder and a calculator with you. As long as you outline what is needed, identify any savings you can get, and stick to the plan you will be fine. It won't come over night and we all have to break ourselves of the impulse buys, but having a plan is the first step.
Distinguish between Wants and Needs: You will save a ton of money if you don't mistake wants for needs. Needs are pretty simple to identify: Shelter, food, clothing, transportation. Wants are those things that enhance or possibly improve our family life. A car is a need. Unless necessary for your business, a $40,000 Sport Vehicle is a want, even if a lot of people don't see it that way. This is not to suggest that you shouldn't be able to have the things you want--only that to delude yourself into believing that a want is a need--and busting your budget in the process--is a recipe for financial disaster.
Plan your spending each month. If it isn't in your plan, then don't buy it. If you want it and feel you can't live without it , put it in next month's plan and wait to buy it. If you have any debt, then get rid of it. The pain of paying it off can help you to make wiser decisions in the future. Make sure you have an emergency fund. Things always happen and it is best to be prepared. When you plan your spending, you don't feel guilty about spending money because it is in the plan and you are prepared. Never spend more than you make and save money for the future.
Set a goal to eliminate debt in 2012! We've paid off over $117K since April of 2008 and you can do it, too.
Keep your categories of spending concise and project both income and expenses a minimum of 3 months at a time. That way, line items like car insurance don't catch you off guard like they would in a month-to-month budget.
Spend more on chocolate, wine, new shoes, and sparkly things - and less on everything else. You're guaranteed to have a more fabulous year - You're welcome! :)