If you have a budget, congratulations! Every financial expert I’ve ever read says that the first step towards a good financial future is to have a budget. But like many of us, you may be having a hard time determining where you can trim the fat so that you can increase your savings. If this is the case, here are some tips that could help.
Get back to basics
If you’re having a problem meeting your financial goals as fast as you would like, you will need to trim your expenses. Conversely, if you create a budget that is too strict, you will probably stop following it. If this seems familiar, a good first step would be to review your categories to see where you could make cuts but without reducing your spending to the point where it would be virtually impossible for you to stay within your budget.
Review your “necessary” expenses
Necessary expenses such as your house and your car are places where it’s easy to feel you could go all out. While you do need a house, you don’t need one that comes with a mortgage that is sucking up 50% of your monthly income. The same thing is true of a new car. You do need transportation but if you buy a car with all those exciting options, it will reduce your disposable income and your ability to save more. To put this another way, if you buy the most house you can afford, get a new car and tighten your budget to the point where your expenses leave you at the zero point each month, you are bound to fail.
Be careful about luxury expenses
There are expenses that many of us think of as necessities but that are really luxuries. For example, is not really necessary to have someone cut your lawn or clean your house. While these might be nice things, using services like this on a regular basis is certain to reduce your savings, disposable income and ultimately leave you with less money to invest. Or, it might end up in debt. When that accumulates, that could be a problem and you have to choose a debt relief program to solve it. Additionally, the money you spend on these “luxuries” is post-tax. If you spend it on these unnecessary items, this actually lengthens the amount of time you will have to continue working to finance your retirement.
Watch the small stuff
We all want certain luxuries. It’s just part of human nature. The issue here is to not let those luxuries take over your budget. By this I don’t mean huge luxuries such as vintage motorbikes, second homes and rarely-use boats. It also includes smaller items such as expensive Internet connections and premium cable packages. As an example of this, let’s suppose that you want the Internet to check stock prices and send emails. There are different types of connections available at varying costs and with varying speeds. If all you need are emails and browsing, you can probably get enough bandwidth with the cheapest connection. The same is true of cable packages, cell phones, computers and other electronic devices. This is an area where you can be proactive. Sit down and determine exactly what you need and then how much you can spend and still maintain your budget.
The harder you work, the easier it will get
The harder athletes work to prepare for their sports, the more successful they will be. The same is true of budgeting. The harder you work on your budget, the easier it will be to manage your finances. Of course, you will have to make some sacrifices. They may be small ones such as getting an Internet connection that’s a few megabytes lower or brewing your own coffee in the morning instead of getting it from a drive-through on the way to work. Or it could be something big such as buying a new car instead of a used one. But make the necessary sacrifices, keep working on that budget and you’re bound to succeed.