Money Management 101
My name is Ellie and it’s so good to see you again. It seems that nothing in this world gets done without some sort of money involved; housing, food, transportation, clothing, and many other essentials. No matter how well we plan our monetary expenses, life is incredibly messy and unpredictable. Finding ways to free up and save some cash can be vitally important for when the unexpected occurs. I also think for a beginner saver it’s important not to have to add anything into your routine, just make adjustments.
Before I get into money saving tips I would like to cover a few absurd tips that have me wondering if I’ve wandered into the Twilight Zone.
I have heard so many times to “Cut the Starbucks habit”. It’s on every money saving website or blog. Guys, I cannot afford a Starbucks habit. If I could afford one I wouldn’t be Googling “How To Save Money”. I would be cutting out the coffee. Also, if the one thing someone has to look forward to every Friday is a cup of coffee they deserve that simple pleasure. If it’s an everyday thing, maybe cut down, but it’s not fair to tell low income people that they shouldn’t indulge in anything at all. So- thank you, next.
Another wonder of a tip is to save 15% of your income to build a savings, or “Oh S**t Fund” as I like to call it. For me that would be $75 a week. That is literally not possible with the bills and debt I have. Thanks for that tip *tosses in garbage*. It's not that the whole tip is garbage, it's just not helpful unless you can find ways to carve out savings in your budget. You might have to start much smaller than 15% and that's okay.
Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox now. One of the most basic things you can do to get your finances under control is make a budget. This means doing the hard work of finding out to the very cent how much your bills are costing you. There's also spending we do each month that we might not realize adds up. For example, buying a smart water every day at work. I know this step can be very stressful for some people but to move forward we need to face this head on. You’re allowed to take your time with this. If you feel overwhelmed take a break. Looking at it straight in the eyes can't hurt you. It's like unveiling a villain. You have to know exactly what you're facing to successfully fight it.
I haven’t found a specific budgeting app that I favor so I will typically write it out or use excel spreadsheet. If you’re new to budgeting the first step is to add up all of your expenses with their due dates. If your paycheck varies weekly I budget for the lowest amount. Then I work out what I can pay on which paycheck and what’s left over. My number one stressor is money and writing a budget out has helped me so much. In another post I'll go more in depth into this process.
While looking at your budget and bills check to see you have unnecessary subscriptions. Do you have Netflix and Hulu and cable? If you need any of them at all pick one. Keep an eye on your bank account to see what subscriptions are pulling. I've been guilty of having forgotten a subscription and been overdrawn in my account.
You're also going to have to cut back on eating out. The dollar menu is still more expensive than a homemade meal. Preplanning your weekly meals is key for this. Full disclosure, this is something I seriously struggle with. But going to the grocery store with specific products and budget in mind will help keep food costs low. Before heading out take a look at the stores ads for sales and check the product companies website for coupons! If there is a generic or store brand option go with that. I use an app called Flipp to see what store has whatever I need the cheapest. Controlling your budget and couponing is not going to fix all of your money woes but it's a great start. Budgeting will give you a clear picture as to where you’re at.
There are a few other small adjustments you can make to save money on bills you already have to pay. To save on your electric bill you can unplug electronics when they’re not in use, as well as making sure lights are off when you’re out of the room. Switching to LED light bulbs instead of traditional bulbs last longer and use less energy. Amazon has some here; https://amzn.to/2PkRQCY To save money on your water bill try taking shorter showers. You can also place water bottles filled with sand or a brick (inside of a plastic bag) in the tank of your toilet. This will save about two gallons of water per day for every person in the home. Also wait to wash laundry until you have a full load and wash on cold water.
Now that we know some of the basics to work on, I’ll be back soon with more in depth tips! If you have any additional money saving insights let me know in the comments below.