Modern life can be expensive. The cost of living is rising, and many people are finding it increasingly difficult to lead a comfortable life. Even with a regular paycheck coming in each month, once you’ve paid for your rent, bills, grocery shopping, and essentials, what’s left in the budget for you to enjoy yourself?
If you’re saving money for something – perhaps retirement, a wedding, or a dream holiday – or if you are simply struggling to get by, you’ve probably already tried to cut costs. You probably know that cutting back on luxuries, saying no to friends’ invitations, and buying lower quality goods will help you save money, but it won’t be enjoyable.
What if I told you that you could live on a budget without sacrificing your quality of life? There are plenty of ways to cut down your outgoings while allowing yourself to have fun, enjoy the odd treat, and socialize with friends. The following tips outline a few ways in which anyone can save money and still live comfortably.
Create a financial plan
First, you’ll need to get the boring bit out of the way before you start. Creating a financial plan isn’t the most exciting of activities, but it is essential to give your budgeting a structure and make you more likely to stick with it. Take some time to sit down and take stock of your financial situation. Work out how much money you have coming in each month, how much of this you will need to put aside for essential payments like bills and food, and then you know how much you have left to play with. Provided you keep track of your spending, you will have a clearer idea of your financial situation and what you can afford to spend. This is the most difficult step, but those who neglect to do it are usually those who fail at keeping to a budget.
Prepare your own food
Sometimes it’s easier to order a pizza than make dinner and wash up. And some days you’re so busy you have no choice but to grab a quick sandwich for lunch on your way into work. Going out to eat and ordering in are two of the biggest unnecessary costs in life. Those restaurant and takeaway bills really start to add up and put a dent in your wallet. Preparing food at home is one of the best ways to save money. No matter how busy you are, there is always time to make a quick and healthy meal at home, and this will always be considerably cheaper, and often tastier, than the alternatives. Even if you think you can’t cook, there are loads of simple recipes online that are budget-friendly and easy to follow. This is not to say you shouldn’t go out to eat, but it should be a treat, not the norm. It’s the everyday habits that are the most damaging, like buying lunch in the store when you could easily make a packed lunch at home, or grabbing an expensive takeaway coffee from Starbucks when you could instead invest in a travel mug and bring your own. This way, you’ll be saving the environment too!
Save money on food shopping
Your weekly grocery shop is a great place to cut costs. Making a food plan and shopping list for the week ahead will ensure you only buy what you need and minimize waste. For each item you buy, ask yourself if you really need it or if you could get a better deal elsewhere. Lots of places offer coupons or payday deals that can help save a lot of money for no effort. Buying items you regularly use in bulk, like toilet paper or sanitary products, will cut down on costs in the long run.
Exercise in nature
Why pay for an expensive gym membership when you can get all the exercise you need in nature? Most cities and towns have plenty of open country and hiking trails that allow you to go out walking or running for no money at all. Lots of parks also have free outdoor gyms that anyone can use. If you are more into fitness classes and gym sessions, there are loads of free online workouts for all abilities, many requiring no equipment at all.
Do it yourself
Got a problem with your house or car that needs fixing? Before you pick up the phone and call in the experts, see if there is anything you can do to fix it yourself. There’s no point paying a plumber or mechanic to come round when all you need is a little guidance to get it done for free. The internet is a valuable tool. Look up your problem and see if there is a solution online. Usually, you will be able to find videos on YouTube that can walk you through fixing anything. If you have friends or family who are experts in cars, plumbing, or construction, they might be able to give you some advice. It may turn out to be too complicated for you to do yourself but at least review your options before you throw money away.
Find free events
Rather than spending money on overpriced nightclubs or expensive concerts, save money by finding free events to attend. Most cities will have free events open to anyone. Just look on local websites or noticeboards to see what’s going on in your area.
Cut out what you don’t need
Look at where your money is going and decide whether everything in your life is worth keeping. What could you cut out to save money? If inessential items really do give you joy, then by all means, keep them, but ask yourself whether things like cigarettes, lottery tickets, expensive beauty treatments, and junk food are all essential. Would you rather keep them in your life or have the extra money in your pocket?
Life can be pretty dull without occasionally treating yourself. At the end of each month, reward yourself for your budgeting efforts by splashing out on something that makes you happy. This could be a nice meal or a new piece of clothing; it’s up to you.
Life on a budget doesn’t have to be painful. With some careful planning and sensible buying, you can live a comfortable life without struggling. Follow these tips and start budgeting today.