Budget Planning - Save Money
Budgeting Your Money
Budgeting your money will lead to saving money, and it does not mean you have to give up everything your love, but it means you have to stand back and look at the big picture listening to saving money tips. If you have credit card debt you can’t pay, then it is important to figure out how to meet your obligations and not ruin your credit. Working out a plan together can be done by following some simple steps.
Sometimes that means working a part time job in addition to full-time employment. This is difficult physically and mentally and certainly exploring other methods to cut expenses is worthwhile. Or, if you are barely making ends meet, sit down with your spouse and look for ways to cut costs. There are many ways to you can save money on a household budget by cutting expenses but you have to be disciplined, and make a plan to stick with each month. Your ultimate goal is to learn to save money with at least 10% a payday. Look at your fixed expenses first.
Rent or a house payment is the number one consideration. If you have a house payment you may be able to refinance at a lower interest rate, or if you have a 15 year mortgage, you may need to get a 30 year loan. If you have a variable interest loan, change to a fixed rate at the lowest interest rate you can find.
You can also increase your insurance deductible to lower your house insurance payment. Shop around to get the best deal on your house insurance. If you have an unused bedroom you could take in a boarder which would add to your income. That is becoming more common as we weather this recession.
Utility bills take another big bite out of your income and you have to take into account higher heating or cooling bills depending on the time of year. Turn your heat down at night to cut costs. Installing a programmable thermostat can provide good savings. Use shades and drapes to keep the cold out in the winter and open them in the summer. Make sure your windows are well sealed so air isn’t leaking in.
You can use a polyethylene sheeting to seal your windows which comes in variety of widths and thicknesses. It is applied directly to the glass window so it slows down the heat conducted through the window. Tape it to your window frame with clear packaging tape. Dress warmer in the winder and keep the thermostat lower, then in the summer dress for hot weather and make use of your ceiling fans. Use compact-florescent bulbs and make sure they are turned off when you aren’t using them. Turn off computers, TV’s and other electronics when you aren’t using them
The next large item is transportation costs which may include a car payment, car insurance, fuel, and car maintenance. If you have to buy a new car, buy used as you lose money just by driving a new car off the lot. Try to find one with good gas mileage. You can also increase you deductible on your car insurance after shopping for the best deal. If you can carpool with someone to work that is an immediate savings. Cut down on your errands, just going to the grocery store once a week and combine other errands when you are already out as fuel is a big expense. Change your oil yourself if possible and also your air filter. A clean air filter helps improve your gas mileage.
Money saving tips on groceries is not that difficult. Cut out the coupons from the Sunday paper. The coupons you get in the Sunday paper are typically worth more than the cost of the paper. Shop sales and if a staple item you use regularly is on sale buy more than one. There are also a lot of coupons on line that you can find quite often by just putting the brand name in the search engine.
You can also save money on groceries by buying your cheaper cuts of meats, and if there is a farmer’s vegetable market near you, their vegetables and fruits are usually lower priced. Have a couple meatless meals a week. Make casseroles or crock pot meals that can last for two meals and will save money. Cut down on buying junk food. Home baked snacks will also save you money. Plan your menu a week at a time before shopping. Fast food, while not particularly healthy, is also expensive. Bring lunch from home to work most of the time. Try to use up leftovers so you are not wasting food. Alcohol and cigarettes are expensive and you could choose to give these up or in the case of alcohol, cut back on how often your drink.
chicken and Rice Casserole
Health and life insurance can be a big expense depending usually on your job's plan. Of course, developing healthy habits with regard to food and exercise will keep you healthier; there are still times medical expenses can be a burden.
Buy generic drugs if available. Use urgent care instead of the emergency if possible. Monitor insurance claims to make sure they get paid by the insurance company. They often make mistakes.
Obviously you have to have clothing but that is another area where you can take advantage of the sales. Stores that carry marked down clothing are great to find top name brands at rock bottom prices. You don’t’ know what is available ahead of time, but it is worth checking them out.
You can also find great used clothes in consignment shops and sometimes at the Salvation Army. People do give away things they have never worn. Stay away from dry clean only clothing. Buy wisely so you can mix and match tops with a couple of pair of slacks or skirts which will make it seem like you have a larger wardrobe.
Entertainment can be a big expense, but you can also keep it simple. Having some friends over for a simple potluck with some games for entertainment can be fun. Children love to play various board games and you could have a family night each week where they get something for dinner they love and then games for the family. If you have cable television, eliminate the premium movie channels to cut costs or if you are really struggling you may need to drop the cable all together.
Great Resource Books on Budgeting
If you use cell phones you could drop your land line all together. If your contract is up see if you can find a cheaper plan and maybe cut back on your minutes.
Putting money into a retirement account (401K, IRA, etc.) is important for your future and should be included into your budget. If you are contributing to an annuity or other accounts where there is no tax break or matching funds, suspend that for the time being, Be sure you got the tax credit last year for your retirement contributions if your adjusted gross income in less than $25,00 for a single and $50,000 for a couple. There is a tax credit for you of up to $1000 for lower earners which is often overlooked. Empty your closets of clothing or other items you aren’t using, and donate them to a non-profit and get your receipt to write off on your taxes or you may have enough to have a garage sale.
It is not a good idea to get the money from your 401K to pay bills as the government will charge you taxes and a 10% penalty if you are under 59 !/2 years. It is possible to borrow money from some 401K’s if you have enough saved. This works out well as they put your money in a savings which gives you a little interest and the interest rates are typically low. You goal it to not deplete your retirement income until you retire.
If you can cut down your monthly expenses in some of the ways I have suggested, you should have a little more money to pay toward the principle of the credit card. It may take a while but you will pay it off over a period of time. It is not easy to go on a strict budget and you will have to reward yourself a little bit now and then.
The result of not changing your spending habits may be losing your home and ruining your credit. If you can keep your spirits up by knowing that you are making progress and this is not forever. This attitude will help you walk through this process a day at a time. Budgeting your money will ultimately let you start saving money and even a small amount of money will build over time and give you that financial security you long for.
© 2011 Pamela Oglesby
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