- Personal Finance
Tight Budget Tips
Times are tough. The average American household is in a bigger budget pinch than ever before. Money seems to fly in all different directions and your paycheck seems to wither away without being able to see a dime of it put towards something you've always wanted. There is nothing more frustrating than working hard and not receiving any reward for your efforts.
It's a time old saying that the best way to earn money is to save. With the success of my previous hub How To Live On A Tight Budget I thought I'd add some more money saving tips that I've learned over the years that could help us all weather through these slowed economic times. Here are a few tips that might just help you save a few bucks this year.
Stop Paying For Entertainment
The biggest way you can save a few hundred bucks a month is by stopping the needless spend of money on entertainment every month. The average person spends 20-30% of our total paycheck on entertainment while some may spend more than that. A great way to save your money is to cancel everything needless, which means entertainment.
Cancel the cable, unplug the satellite, cut back on the cell phone features, cancel all magazine/newspaper subscriptions, etc...
I'm not saying that you should be prisoner in your home, what you can do is find free ways entertaining yourself and your family. Here's just a few free fun examples.
- Play board games, card games, etc...
- Read a book - they are free at recycling depots or at the library.
- Borrow movies from friends or the library. You could even download movie torrents online (legal one's of course).
- Get a "free to air" satellite receiver. Satellite signals for basic local channels are still free.
- Borrow an internet connection from your neighbor. Make a deal to water their grass for free use of their wireless internet connection. They'll be glad to have a nice green lawn.
Pack a Lunch
Keeping a lunch box handy could help you save a ton of money. Eating out or purchasing snack items at a corner store adds up over time. Consider these examples.
- $6/day for a fast food meal X 20 work days = $120/month
- $1.50/day for coffee (the cheapest coffee) X 20 work days = $30/month
- $2/day for snacks & beverages X 20 work days = $40/month
Total = $190/month that could be saved by just packing food for lunch.
The average American household will spend 16% of their income on transportation. This means car, gas, insurance, maintenance and repairs. This seems unnecessarily high when you consider all of the other more affordable modes of transportation out there (trains, bus, taxi, biking, walking).
If you insist on having a vehicle purchase one that is multipurpose and satisfies all of your needs. Remember it is better to just have a truck than a truck and a prius in your driveway. The gas you save driving the prius will not make up for the extra costs of payments and insurance.
Also consider living closer to your place of work. Traveling long distances regularly can be easily avoided by simply living in the right location.
We spend the lion's share of our income (35%) on our homes. While this is required to live and survive in our modern world, we don't necessarily need to over extend our income to pay for expensive accommodations. Consider your needs as a family and purchase a home that is sensible while still meeting your criterias.
You might also want to consider renting as an option. Purchasing a home is a wise long term investment. But if you are the type who likes to change locations often or are still trying on different career hats, renting might just be more sensible for you.
Quit Those Dirty Habits
Have a habit of smoking or going to bar at night? Consider quitting and drinking at home instead. The amount of money spent on bad habits are staggering. You will be healthier in the long run as well, saving you money for any future medical expenses.