Budgeting and saving aren’t quite as simple as it used to be. In the past, families found it easy to add money to their savings account because their income easily exceeded the standard cost of living. As times have changed, inflation has continued while minimum wage increases have been at a standstill.
While the traditional methods for budgeting might be out of the question for you, there are alternatives that can help keep you financially sound.
Our list of easy budgeting tips will help you find the best ways for you to increase your savings while also teaching you to navigate the expensive events that can’t be avoided in life. To start, let’s take a look at why saving and budgeting is so important.
Why Do I Need Savings?
The simple answer is: life happens.
Living paycheck to paycheck can be stressful enough as is, but when you run into a financial emergency things can feel overwhelming. What happens when you have just enough money for your food and bills and suddenly you are in need of leaky roof repairs, an emergency room visit, or a new tire on your car?
Implementing these easy budgeting tips can help you find extra funds to put back for these emergencies. You may be surprised how much peace of mind a small safety net can bring you.
Overcoming Debt to Benefit Sustainable Savings
When you begin planning ways to budget and save, you might start to realize just how much debt you have. Can you really start saving while owing multiple companies hundreds or thousands of dollars?
If your current budget includes the minimum payments toward your debt, you are in a good place to begin saving. However, if you are dodging default notices and stressing over the possibility of court dates and small claims action, you might want to consider the benefits of speaking with a local bankruptcy attorney.
Bankruptcy gets a bad rap as being a life and credit ruiner, but the reality is far different. Those in deep, crippling debt can find immense financial and emotional relief through bankruptcy. It does negatively affect your credit for 10 years, but the cleared debts can often take even longer to pay off.
When looking for attorneys, you have two options. A chapter 13 lawyer can help you avoid filing bankruptcy by restructuring your debt, helping you implement easy budgeting tips, and making payment plans. A chapter 7 bankruptcy law attorney, on the other hand, is for those who don’t want to restructure their debt and instead wish to proceed immediately with the filing of bankruptcy.
How to Increase Your Monthly Take-Home Income
If you could bring home a little extra money with each paycheck, how much would that help you? We bet it would make a large difference in keeping up with your bills and avoiding late fees. There are a few ways to approach the idea of increasing your monthly income. Let’s take a look at a few manageable options.
Ask for a Raise
If you have been in your position for over 6 months, you may be entitled to a raise. Now, raises aren’t guaranteed, but asking to be properly compensated for your skills and dedication is completely fair. Asking for a raise takes a little preparation.
First, list any additional responsibilities you have taken on since starting your job along with your skills, examples of dedication, and direct contributions to the team or company. Then, do some market research to determine the fair pay rate for your position.
Once armed with that knowledge, you can have a sit-down conversation with your manager to respectfully and polite explain why you deserve a salary increase.
Assess Your Tax Pay-In
When is the last time you adjusted your W-4 withholding? Do you often find yourself receiving large tax refunds due to the overpayment of taxes? It might be time to reassess your taxes.
If you would rather receive more money on each paycheck versus getting a lump sum repayment during tax season, this option from our list of easy budgeting tips is for you. Speak with your company’s payroll services or HR about changing your W-4. They can help guide you through the process of adjusting your pay-in amount which can result in each paycheck being larger.
Get a Side Hustle
This may seem too obvious to be on our list of easy budgeting tips, but getting a side hustle can not only increase your monthly income, but also fulfill you in other ways. Many people have started profiting off their favorite hobbies like gardening, crafting, and more. If you have a skill you love, see if you can turn it into a little extra cash.
Interesting Ways to Pad Your Savings
When you are trying to build your safety net, finding extra money here and there can be super exciting. One of the best easy budgeting tips you can follow is to take any non-essential funds and immediately place them in a good savings account. But where can you get those extra funds?
Here are a few ways to get some extra money.
Sell Unused Furniture
Furniture can be expensive, which might be why we have such a hard time parting with it. Still, if you find your home or garage filled with pieces that do little more than take up space – consider parting with them. Pinterest and other project boards have made furniture projects hugely popular. This can really increase the likelihood that you sell even the grungiest of furniture items.
Go Through Your Jewelry Box
One of the most lucrative options on our list of east budgeting tips is selling old jewelry. Many jewelers and online gold and silver retailers make the process quick and easy. They even let you sell broken jewelry at reasonable rates. For plastic or costume jewelry, look into thrift and resale shops that like to buy such items in bulk.
Empty Out Your Closet
Your clothes offer another lucrative area for resale. You can even sell your clothing items online through digital thrift shops and designer resale apps. If you up-cycle clothing as a hobby, there are many websites that allow you to market your original designs.
How to Save Money on Large Repairs
One of the most important easy budgeting tips is: try to save money on large expenses.
Facing issues like the sudden need to buy a car or replace a roof can overwhelm us and convince us that we will be spending thousands of dollars no matter what we do. However, it is perfectly acceptable to shop around, compare your options, and seek discounts where you can.
Shop Local to Save on Travel Costs
Service providers that base their operations in your town can often offer heavy savings through the lack of travel fees, but there are other benefits as well. Local roofers, for instance, can be easily vetted through word of mouth advertising and local certification board guidelines. This also saves you money by avoiding botched work or untrustworthy workers.
Utilize Specialists to Save Time and Money
Typically, the term specialist immediately makes you think “more expensive.” In some instances that is accurate, but when it comes to repair services you can actually save quite a bit of money. Think about your HVAC system.
Say your air conditioner stops blowing cold air in the depths of summer. You call a general repair company and they find the issue is a fried blower motor. They tell you they need to order a part and can be back to fix the air conditioner in a week.
Now, you have to survive another week in the heat and pay for a second visit from the repairman.
Alternatively, if you seek out air conditioning contractors, they are more likely to have common parts and materials in their possession to get your repairs finished in a single visit.
Seek Out Free Assessments or Quotes
If you aren’t certain how much you need for your repair, you can usually find building contractors and repair service providers willing to offer free assessments and quotes. If you take this route, be certain to read the fine print of their agreements. Sometimes the free quote is only free if you contract further service.
How to Save Money on Large Item Purchases
You can follow all the easy budgeting tips in the world, and one large purchase can knock your savings back to zero. You can try to avoid large purchases but it isn’t always possible. Did you know that statistics show the average vehicle owners file an accident claim once every 17.9 years? That means the average vehicle owner is likely to have multiple accidents in their life and likely need to replace multiple vehicles.
So what do you do when large purchases, like buying a car, can’t be avoided?
Here are our best easy budgeting tips to save money on big purchases:
- Buy Used or Refurbished
- Sign Up For Company Emails to Receive Discounts
- Use Money-Saving Browser Extensions
- Trade In On Big Items
- Make Use of Rebate Programs
How to Save Money on Animal Medical Care
Another expensive area of life that many people overlook is animal medical care. Whether you have a hamster or a horse, animal doctor rates can range wildly and leave you making impossible decisions about your pet’s care. Most vet clinics require upfront payment for services, which isn’t always feasible. There are a few options for handling these expenses.
Pet insurance is becoming increasingly popular each year. Top insurance brands like Geico and Nationwide have even begun adding pet insurance to their list of services. The upfront rates for these plans might not be reasonable for some consumers, but those with a large number of pets, or a pet with extensive medical needs, can save thousands of dollars.
Care Credit Card
Care Credit is a credit card that is specifically intended to cover veterinary care. In fact, most pet insurances require the charges to be paid for with Care Credit first before they reimburse the claimant. This is a great option for those needing emergency vet options on a lower budget.
Seek Vets with Payment Plans
If you are unable to be approved for Care Credit, you may need to call around to all the vets within traveling distance to find one with payment plans or low-income affordability options. Many Humane Societies offer discount services to low-income families and can even help provide food and medicine during times of financial hardship. If you don’t have a nearby Humane Society, try reaching out to area animal rescues or no-kill shelters for advice and recommendations.
A Quick Guide to Easy Budgeting
When it comes to budgeting, everything can change from month to month. Going with the flow is vital to success in improving the status of your savings account. You may feel that your budgeting is going well, but time can show you places where you are consistently overspending. Each month, as you work out your budget and notice areas that need improvement, keep these easy budgeting tips in mind:
- Cancel Unused Subscriptions
- Utilize Cash to Stop Overspending
- Create and Stick to Monthly Budgeting Goals
- Assess Whether a Purchase is Necessary Before Making It
- Cancel Credit Cards as You Pay Them Off
- Try to Plan Spend-Free Days Every Week
- Assess Your Spending Habits to Find Areas You Can Save
- Don’t Lend Out Money You Can’t Afford to Lose
- Avoid Using High-Interest Loan Services (e.g. Payday or Signature Loans)
- Split Your Direct Deposit to Send Money Straight to Savings
It takes a lot more effort to save and budget these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. With proper planning, appropriate sacrifices, and a little know-how, you can improve your budgeting quickly. If you utilize some of these easy budgeting tips you can get on the fast-track to financial freedom and stress-free living.
Whether you need to begin planning for retirement in 30 years or surgery for your cat next month, these easy budgeting tips can get you the financial security you need. And if you mess up one month, that’s okay. Budgeting is a process and it takes time to get better. We know the journey will be stressful, but it will be worth it in the end.