Wouldn’t it be nice to stop living with an uncertain financial future? Wouldn’t it be great to not only have enough for what you need, but to be able to put aside a bit extra every month for a rainy day? With your current situation though, you may not be able to see a way to get out of this financial deficit so you can save for a rainy day.
Amazingly, people with less money and more financial responsibility have found ways to reach their goal of not living from pay check to pay check. Here are some secrets that could help you do likewise. Make each a habit and encourage savings at every corner.
First, create a weekly meal plan that uses the same ingredients for a variety of meals. The thing that tends to increase your shopping expenses is purchasing different ingredients for every meal you plan.
For example, Monday night is pasta night; Tuesday is Mexican; Wednesday is soup; Thursday is Hot Dogs; and Friday is Steak night. Your shopping list tends to build up because each meal requires a different set of ingredients, which costs a lot more than buying just fewer ingredients in bulk would.
There are websites, like supercook.com, that will help you determine what variety of meals only take a set amount of ingredients, e.g. chicken, noodles, bread, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc. Choose a meal you want to cook that week, type in the names of these ingredients into that website, and see what other meal options you can try out. Then go to the store with that same list and purchase in bulk for the week. This can often save you quite a bit of money in the long run, while increasing your home menu.
Second, determine to save $1 every two weeks. Surely one dollar isn’t that hard to put aside. You can often willingly forgo a more expensive brand name item for generic if it means you get to put $1 to your future.
Habits are created with simple, persistent effort. One measly buck every paycheck is a great start. After a year, you’ll have created such a deep habit that it will seem unnatural to not save. You may even lift your sights to $2 per paycheck (and in fact, you should strive to shoot for more if you want this savings to grow). For now though, concentrate on what you can manage, and save $1 every pay check until you’re ready to increase that expense.
Third, change your spending attitude. If you live from pay check to pay check because you throw money around at your leisure, then you have the financial opportunities to quit that lifestyle. Go back through your bank statements over the past three months and identify what was (1) needed, and (2) frivolous.
Keep the needed expenses in place, but make a goal to cut the amount of money you use frivolously. Frivolous expenses are a necessary part of life, but it should be limited to an affordable amount. Make a goal for how much you want available for discretion and then track your spending every day throughout the month. When you have a goal and then track your progress, you are far less likely to spend as frivolously as you did before. Save the surplus money for another day.
Fourth, work together with your spouse. If you’re married, then work through your finances together as a couple. No one person should think they have full control of the money. This creates inequality, and that inequality often ends up in relationship trouble, or over/unexpected spending on either side of the equation.
Approach your finances as equals. It’s not about what’s “yours” it’s about what’s “ours.” Plan and address your current spending habits like the frivolous spender would. Identify your needs. Find places you can improve on your discretionary money and start saving today.
Fifth, save everything you can and find ways to make more money to save. Any extra money you find in your budget should be saved. Reduce spending on unnecessary luxuries like cable TV, or air conditioners set expensively low at 68 degrees.
Any old items that you want to get rid of can be sold. Take the money from that sale and put it away. Find ways to sell your skills or hobbies outside of work to get a few extra bucks to put away.
Living from pay check to pay check can make you feel imprisoned. Shed those shackles and be free from the pain of financial worry every month by applying these five secrets to your life.