80% of Americans are in debt. The easy solution is to create a balanced budget. Of course, following that budget is the hard part. If you’re living on a strict financial budget, you’ve probably been tempted to quit from time to time.
This is especially true if your financial goals are miles away.
But there’s some good news. You can supercharge your budget by minimizing hidden expenses and allocating funds in intelligent ways. With a few of these budget ideas, you could be saving more money and have more expendable cash at the end of every month.
Don’t believe me? These seven budget ideas could get you the extra cash you need.
Save Big With 7 Small Budget Ideas
No, I’m not here to tell you to get a second job. From electricity to groceries, we’re spending money almost every minute of every day. That’s where the opportunities lie.
Some minor lifestyle changes and personal budgeting tips can lead to massive savings.
1. Use a Budgeting Tool
You shouldn’t have to think about budgeting. If you’re micromanaging every dollar, you’re making things too hard on yourself.
Instead, rely on a robust, automated system. This might be something as simple as an excel sheet that allocates your monthly income. Or, you might opt to use one of several free budget applications.
Not big on budget programs? Then let your bank do the hard part for you. Have your employer deposit your earnings in your savings account.
From here, you can give yourself a budget with automatic transfers to your bank’s checking account. This way, you’ll avoid overspending and dwelling on financial woes.
2. Cut It Out
Addictions are expensive. You could save almost $200 a month by cutting cigarettes out of your life. And it’s not just cigarettes.
Alcohol can rack up quite an expense. Even small vices can add up. Instead of drinking a $1 can of soda each day, just try water or tea.
These small changes lead to big savings, especially if you’re using the extra money to pay off debt and accumulated interest.
3. Focus on Debt
Speaking of debt, it should be your priority. Credit card debt, student loans — it doesn’t matter. All debt comes with interest. As soon as you’ve saved an emergency fund that covers your expenses for three to six months, you should channel every dollar into your debt payments.
Why? Because every dollar you put towards your debt is less money you’ll owe in interest. In most cases, it’s a bigger bang for your buck than putting that cash in the stock market.
It might be in your best interest to consolidate your debt. Not sure what that means, or looking for quicker ways to erase your debt? You need a debt relief 101 crash course.
4. Plan Your Meals
Food is a significant burden on any budget. If you’re already serious about saving, you limit your fast food purchases for special occasions. But what I’m talking about is grocery shopping.
Yes, you can stretch your dollar even at the grocery store. On average, Americans throw away 40% of their food. To make the most of your food purchases, consider meal planning.
Before you visit the grocery store, plan your meals in advance. When you know what you’ll be cooking for the month, you can create a grocery list beforehand. Be sure to purchase the items on the list and nothing more.
If you live alone, you’ll save a few extra hundred every year. And if you shop for a family, the savings will be even larger.
5. Live Efficiently
Do you leave the water running when you brush your teeth or the lights on when you aren’t in the room? It’s time to become mindful of wasted utilities.
Since electronics use power even when they’re not in use, you should unplug them until you need them again. If your water is burning hot, consider turning down the water heater. You’ll save in energy costs without having to do a thing.
Leaving the apartment for work? Turn off your air conditioning or heating, since you won’t be needing it. These changes are simple, eco-friendly, and can help you save more every month.
6. Reduce the Rent
Most of your income probably goes toward your rent. While rent should cost no more than 30% of your income every month, 25% of Americans pay more than half.
Are you spending too much on rent? You could save hundreds every month by changing your housing situation. This might mean finding a roommate, moving to a cheaper area, or — dare I say it? — crashing at your parents’ place.
Nobody said moving was easy. But if you need more money to stay on budget, it’s the easiest way to find it.
7. Become a Handyman
I promised I wouldn’t tell you to get a second job. However, when possessions or appliances break down, see if you can fix them on your own. If not, seek help from someone local like appliance repair in Anaheim CA who will not charge you exorbitant repair charges
The internet has guides for everything. Assuming you have the tools, you could save hundreds by making your own repairs. This could be as simple as changing your vehicle’s oil, rather than taking it to a shop.
Of course, when you can’t fix it yourself, this is why you have an emergency fund.
Make the Most of Your Budget
If your debt is out of control, these budget ideas can help you tame the beast. The extra money can also go a long way in giving you more spending cash. And sometimes, it’s better to indulge yourself than to give up on budgeting altogether.
When you’re feeling down, just remember your financial objectives.
You may have a strict budget in the short-term, but you’ll be in a healthier financial situation after paying off your debts. A sound monetary future is within reach. You just need to stick to it.