Creating and sticking to a budget is easier said than done.
Many of us start the month with the best intentions but then find ourselves exceeding our spending limit.
There are several reasons why a person can overspend on their budget. Holiday shopping, overspending on items just because they’re on sale, or forgetting to keep track of what’s been spent are just a few of the ways a person might overspend.
Long-term budgeting helps you save money, pay off debt, and buy that car, phone, or expensive purse you’ve been wanting. There are many ways to save money on a tight budget, and we’re here to help.
If overspending is a common situation for you, our tried-and-true money budgeting tips can help you stay on track and become more diligent about your spending habits.
1. Make a List & Stick to it
One of the easiest ways to stick to your budget is to make a list of the items you need and bills that have to be paid.
Groceries, household necessities, or a utility bill should be accounted for each month before spending money on luxury items.
Creating a list with the items that need to be purchased or a bill that needs to be paid will help you estimate the costs and how much you can set aside in the bank.
For the most part, bills like your mortgage, car payment, and utility bill cost roughly the same amount each month — meaning that you can anticipate what’s coming each month and not have to drastically adjust your budget.
Making a list of essentials and bills is one of the most useful, and easiest, ways to save money on a tight budget.
But it can help anyone looking to create better money management habits.
2. Track Your Spending
It is common for people to make small purchases or treat themselves to something special, but these expenses can add up quickly.
Over time, this habit can take a toll on your budget — and ultimately on your bank account.
Keeping track of expenditures, no matter the amount, may leave you feeling surprised to see how much you could have put in your savings account.
In tracking your spending over the course of a few months or weeks, you can identify spending patterns.
Maybe you go out to dinner every Friday with friends — by reducing this to every other Friday, or once a month, you could cut down that spending by more than half.
3. Limit Shopping Trips to Once a Week
Many of us think it’s safe to assume if we go out less frequently, we’ll spend less money. That isn’t always the case.
Take grocery shopping, for example. For many families, food is a large expense. But there are ways to shop smart at the grocery store without breaking the bank.
If you head to the store without a list (or when you’re especially hungry) you could end up with items you don’t really need — or a surplus of items you already have at home.
Dedicate one day each week for your shopping needs and stick to your list. If an item is missed, add it to the list for the following week.
If you forget an important item and must return to the store, do your best to make it a quick in-and-out trip by using a basket instead of a cart, or going on your lunch break.
Follow these food hacks to save even more money on groceries and shop smarter.
4. Limit Online Shopping & Avoid Buyer’s Remorse
Trying to limit how often you shop isn’t just about groceries and essential household items.
Thanks to smartphones, tablets, and other devices with internet access, consumers essentially have an endless mall at their fingertips that is open 24 hours a day.
So, limiting online shopping trips is a little trickier than expected — but not impossible.
Try logging out of the apps that make it easy to shop, like Amazon or Target. This way, the next time you add something to your virtual shopping cart, you will need to log back in, preventing impulse purchases by giving you time to reconsider.
If it’s hard to remember passwords, or you simply don’t want to go through the motion of logging in and out, don’t save your credit card information in their system.
This way you can still “window shop” but you will still need to take the extra step to get out your debit or credit card.
5. Pay in Cash
Credit cards make life a lot easier but can be too tempting for some.
Sticking to cash-only transactions can help control impulse purchases if you only carry money that is earmarked for specific purchases.
If you have budgeted $100 for groceries for the week, and all you bring is a hundred dollars in cash, you will only be able to buy $100 worth of food.
By bringing a credit or debit card, you have access to all the funds in your account or credit line. This can lead to overspending and can cause you to go over your budget.
Paying for something with physical money can also cause you to rethink the purchase. Handing over money can be harder for many as opposed to swiping a credit or debit card.
Get Budgeting Tips from HRCCU
Implementing changes can help create better money management habits, avoid unnecessary expenses, and stick to a budget.
But it isn’t always easy.
If you need help creating a budget, Hudson River Community Credit Union offers financial counseling for its members.
This resource is in addition to our help center, which can provide you with general information, like where to find an ATM, and how to set up recurring billpay.
For further assistance budgeting your money and getting your finances on track, contact us today. We will be happy to assist you and answer all of your questions.