It's necessary to have goals, dreams and wants in life. But achieving these things without planning can lead down a long rd. of struggles. We have all we need at our fingertips, we just need to apply the concepts.
One of the most important things to do for your finances is to budget. It is essential for understanding where your money is going. I mentioned in my previous posts about an expense journal. I find it is helpful to also keep a notebook in my purse to jot down expenses while I'm out to transfer to a larger notebook. I use notebooks because they are very inexpensive (think school time sales, 19 cents or less :0). It also works for me because it helps me be more accountable with what I am spending. To me, it's more hands on then a computer program so I feel more engaged in planning properly, instead of a computer that calculates it all automatically. Which is nice, but it's a matter of preference and what will work for you and your family.
Some great programs are Quicken and Microsoft money if you prefer to use the computer.
If you don't know where your money is going it's impossible to plan a decent budget and expect it to work.
The journal is a great way to help you keep on track. That way you will be less likely to overspend. Equally important is to follow the budget! :-)
Start with your actual bring home pay each month. List monthly bills, and it's also a good idea to keep a journal of your creditors, who you owe money to. I have a separate journal for the amounts owed, as well as the account numbers, passwords, addresses, phone numbers, etc. It takes a little time to get together, but is so worth it to have everything layed out in front of you.
The next part to consider when planning a budget is your wants vs. your needs. This can be challenging for all of us from time to time, but we need to stay focused on our goals. I find it helpful to attach photos of things important to me, such as my home and how I don't want to jeopardize it by making unwise choices.
Another great way to keep track of spending is by using only cash. Once it's gone, it's gone. Sounds simple, yet when using bank or credit cards you don't see the physical money...I feel making us less aware of what we spend, or if we go over we feel it's o.k., or just this one time. But it's not, and a budget needs to be followed.
When planning your budget, don't plan it counting on windfalls, such as tax returns. Your budget should be built around your current earnings.
Using electronic banking is also a great way to track your expenses and keep record of where your money is going. Keep room in that budget for saving! When your income does increase, save more, don't live above your means!
Some more ways to save:
* If you are a smoker....quit! Improve your health and help your budget :-)
* Use only your bank's ATM machines and avoid paying fees to others
*Eliminate magazine subscriptions and enjoy issues at your local library
* Build an emergency fund for the unexpected
* Have a meatless meal at least once a week, and it helps to cut down your grocery bills.
* If you currently have credit card debt, transfer the balances, or call to see if your current lender will lower the interest rate.
* If possible carpool to and from work, or to activities and events.
* Cook large amounts of meals on the weekend to freeze and save for the week.
* Be sure to utilize leftovers! Many can be made into other meals.
* Instead of buying individually packaged foods (puddings, applesauce's, yogurts) but a large container a divide into plastic or glass storage containers you have on hand. Also environmentally friendly.
* Use a dryer rack, or hang clothes on the line (weather permitting) will really cut your costs.
* Use rechargeable batteries for your games and toys, etc.
* Use cloth napkins and towels. Avoid the $$ on paper and the waste!
As you can see I like my posts to have pictures :-) It also makes me smile while writing this today to think of Spring! These are pictures from last Spring and Summer. Some taken at Longwood gardens. Another great way to save is to buy the year long family memberships to places such as these and enjoy as often as you like instead of paying so much for a one- time entrance. Museums are another great place you can benefit from by doing this.
They also offer free days, check your local museums for details. :-)
I will be working on more posts, a more detailed one for groceries and meal planning. Also planning on one for teaching your children how to save and the value of money. Because unfortunately it doesn't grow on trees..... LOL.
Thanks for stopping by today!