Financial struggles can seem like a problem that just won’t go away. Because money affects every part of life, it has to be constantly managed. Having the right attitude and planning ahead can help you stop worrying about money and allow you to relax more and be proud of your financial accomplishments. The key is to think ahead and know which measures to take to be responsible in your spending and save accordingly. Here are some tips as to how you can go about doing this.
Budgets help you reach your full potential when it comes to spending efficiently and responsibly. Without having a budget set in place, you probably won’t have a clear idea of where all of your money is going and why you’re overspending on things. According to CNN, there are generally three steps involved with establishing a budget:
- Figure out your current spending habits
- Analyze this behavior and set financial goals for the future
- Keep track of your spending to make sure you’re adhering to the plan
If you think creating a budget is a huge hassle, you’re not alone. The creation and upkeep can get tiresome, but it can help immensely. The Internet provides a wide range of tools you can use to complement or even create your budget. For example, mint.com is a free service that helps you keep track of your finances in one place.
When you get down to budgeting, consider how you’ve been spending money and how you want that to change. What are your priorities? Do you want more spending money? Do you need to pay off debt? Split your budget into fixed expenses and discretionary ones. This will allow you to see which sources of spending can be adjusted to suit your goals.
Being frugal doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be making a ton of sacrifices. A lot of the time you can be getting the same product or service for a cheaper price if you knew some tips. Keeping track of coupons can allow you to buy the food you’d normally get at a much better price.
Even the Federal Trade Commission has a list called 66 Ways to Save Money it offers online for consumers. If it’s too overwhelming to be constantly looking for deals, pinpoint problem areas in your spending and use frugal tips to cut back. There are online message boards where others can support you or give you advice, like the Frugal subreddit or Frugal Mom Forums.
Once you’ve gotten your fixed expenses and spending money all figured out, you can use these cutbacks to alleviate other financial problems like debt. If you need to pay off credit cards, repay student loans, or take care of any other financial obligations, start working on it now.
But there are other reasons to save. Bankrate.com lists 9 reasons to save money, including your future retirement and the possibility of a financial emergency arising. Think about your priorities and save accordingly.
MSN suggests putting money you’ve decided not to spend when you’re out at the mall or the grocery store into your savings. Passing up on that tub of ice cream isn’t saving if you don’t actually save it. There are even apps now that could encourage saving, like the PriceCheck&Save app that allows users to browse various prices of items but also features a button that says, “Save to 401(k)” as an alternative to buying.
KNOWING YOUR OPTIONS
Sometimes, though, an incident comes up, and you don’t have the time to gradually save up money. If you lost a job, have to pay medical bills, or are in some other financial predicament, it’s not easy to just gather up all of the cash you need. So what can you do?
Assuming you don’t have an emergency fund, a few of your options include asking a loved one to lend you money, paying for whatever you need on credit, or taking out a payday loan. You might not like having to owe and pay back money, but if it’s your only option, think about the routes you can take.
If a family member or friend can’t help you out, or it’s just too much money to ask for, you might start thinking about borrowing. Payday loans can work because they’re short term, and you can repay the amount taken out with the money from your next paycheck. This should only be used in emergencies, though.
It might be difficult to get your finances in order, but the work you put in will definitely pay off when you’re less stressed about what you’re spending your money on. It’s important to save up money for the future and for emergencies, so start planning now so you can gradually build up good savings.