How to Budget and Save Money

April 8, 2013

Personal Finance

In this down economy, learning how to budget and save money can make the difference between paying the mortgage and living on the street, having food or being hungry, and being able to retire versus working until you die.

If you think about it, no matter how hard things get, there is always a way to save money for those that are willing to put in the hard work. It’s those that refuse to compromise that end up suffering.

To start with, if you really want to learn how to budget and save money then you need to accept the reality that you won’t be able to buy everything you want. You often hear of people saying to cut out the latte or eating out, but I find that it’s those experiences that make budgeting worthwhile.

The trick to setting a budget isn’t in cutting out every pleasurable item in your life, but in finding ways to pay for those items, which means you can do two things:

  1. Earn more
  2. Spend less

Today, we’ll talk about the second point, because it’s the easiest to fix. My strategy is to find the sweet spot between having fun and still having enough money to pay the bills.

Analyze Your Buying Behavior

Start by analyzing your purchasing behavior to look for moments of weakness. When do you spend more than you can afford to? Is it when you are hungry, or after a few beers? Do you spend money when you’re depressed, or when you are happy?

Learn to isolate and eliminate the types of behaviors that put you in the hole.

Make Small Cuts

Rather than dropping cable or satellite TV all together, why not cut down to the next smallest plan to see how you get by. If you’re paying for cell phone minutes that you don’t use, then look into a lower rate plan.

Are you paying for high speed Internet when something slower will do?

Essentially, make small changes that don’t hurt as bad, and see how they effect your morale. It’s important that you don’t cut too much, which usually leads people to over-react and binge-shop.

Save First

The best way to save money is to start putting it away before you have the chance to spend it. If you really want to learn how to budget and save money then it starts with the actual saving.

Put aside as much of your paycheck as you can afford to, and try to pretend that it doesn’t exist. I like to use a separate bank account for that reason, and check it so little that I rarely remember the password. This is a nice way to keep my money away from my own dangerous spending habits.

Relax

Just remember that what goes down, must come up. If you budget well and live below your means for a time, you are bound to bounce back up and find a renewed vigor. The trick is making it through the tough times without going broke.

If you want to know how to budget and save money, then start by relaxing and not letting your finances dictate how you feel about yourself.

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