It is very easy to sit down and figure out monthly bills and other expenditures. What is not so easy is creating a budget that will work and then stick to it on a regular basis. Part of the reason budgeting is so difficult is that it seems like something always comes up at some point during the month (car repairs, dental appointment, etc). These things are a part of life and do pop up out of the blue at times.
While it may be true that you cannot always count on surprise expenditures, there are certain things you spend money on throughout the month that you can control. You can work on eliminating some, if not all, of these unnecessary items and save yourself some money each month.
So many people have made a habit out of stopping at the closet coffee shop on the way to work/school or just to get their day started in general. This is an unnecessary item. If you are one of those people, then get out the pen and paper and figure out how much you are spending in an average month on that coffee. For example, say you spend $4 on a small specialty coffee every morning during the week. Easy math says that you spend about $80 a month for coffee. That is rather silly when you can spend about $10 a month and get everything you need to make pretty much the same specialty drink right in your own kitchen! If you do not have a coffee maker then spend about $20 for mid-grade one at your local shopping center and for the first month, you still saved $50! That is a full tank of fuel in some cars.
Aside from the money, having to stop at the coffee shop and then stand in line just to get coffee seems like pretty big hassle when you have other places to be. Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to get dressed just to go get your morning coffee? Most coffee machines nowadays are programmable so you can prepare your coffee the night before and set the timer for when you need it to brew. All you have to do then is wake up and go to kitchen to get a fresh cup of coffee.
This is such an unnecessary expenditure for people. Not to mention most fast foods are not healthy for you. If you are one of those people who simply does not have the time to cook and bake all day, then try picking one day to make several meals and then freeze them. Homemade food tastes so much better and is better for you because you can choose what goes into it. Another idea is to to use a slow cooker. Place your ingredients in the cooker, set the temperature and time and then simply walk away. When you get home that evening, you have a hot home cooked meal waiting for you.
If this sounds like too much hassle or you feel you do not really spend that much on fast food, then grab that pen and paper again. On an average week, say you spend $5 for lunch at a fast food place per day. That adds up to $100 a month or $1,200 a year just on fast food. What could you do with an extra $1,200?
Name brand products
Try this for one month and see how much you save! Stop buying anything with a name brand and try buying the store brand or cheaper equivalent. Chances are you will not notice much difference in the cheaper brand plus you will save money. Sometimes, people get so wrapped in the name that they are willing to pay absurd amounts of money for it.
To illustrate the influence of branding, frozen peas are frozen peas no matter what name is on the package. You could literally cut your shopping bill in half by trying this suggestion. To be fair, sometimes cheaper items are just that, cheap. So you will have to experiment with certain products to see what you can get cheaper and maintain high quality.
When you sit down and take a good look at what you spend your money on, then you are more likely to begin seeing what your unnecessary expenses are. If you are honest with yourself, then you will be more likely to eliminate many of those frivolous items from your monthly budget. This is not to say that you cannot indulge in special things once in a while, after all everyone deserves something special every now and then. The trouble begins when those occasional special treats become a regular part of the budget.
Keep the special items truly special and save up for something you really want instead of having to buy something every day or even several times a month. A treat is something that does not happen all the time, that is what makes it a treat in the first place. By cutting out unnecessary spending, you will save money and probably not even miss those eliminated items as much as you initially thought you would.