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Living on a Budget

Living on a Budget

One of the most common talks about growing up and even after college was living on a  budget. Talking about it is one thing and it often almost seems so easy but actually living it is a whole other story.  The other thing that people often don’t talk about is when they say they are living on a budget they are often living paycheck to paycheck. This is the reality of so many people, Even I personally have lived paycheck to paycheck. 

 

Living on a budget and living paycheck to paycheck is/can be an endless cycle. As someone who has been in this situation before it takes a lot of diligence, patience, focus, and sacrifice to figure it out. During that time I learned a ton of tips and tricks to help figure it all out. 

 

When it comes to figuring it all out, it was more than just expenses its actually figuring out how money works. When it comes to figuring out how money works ist not just the costs of things but also understanding where your money goes. I talk about it in Money Organizing so I may be a bit repetitive but I think it’s important. 

 

With living on a budget there are a few things you need to understand. 

 

  • Figure out how much you make monthly
    • If you get paid hourly try and do the lowest moment as opposed to the highest 
    • Most importantly do not round up if anything round down
  • Write out all your set need expenses (I like to write these out in black)
    • Cable, Wifi, Insurance, Credit card, Rent, Car, student loans, etc. 
    • This should be anything you cannot cancel till it is paid off
  • Write out your fun/other set expenses 
    • Any subscription or service 
    • Hulu, Xbox Live, Spotify, amazon prime, etc. 
  • Use what is leftover 
    • Groceries, Gas, social, savings, etc., 

Pro Tip: You pay for things at once like car insurance, amazon prime, Hulu, etc. which is great because you save a ton of money. However to make sure you have that money for the next in-full payment divide up that in full payment by how many months (Amazon it is 12 months, for most car insurance it is six months). This will allow you to put that money aside for the next in-full payment. 

**Please see the photo for a rough example**. 

 

Now when looking at the breakdown it is made up of imaginary amounts; not my actual budget/pay breakdown. I also know there are tons of apps and even word excel spreadsheets that you can use to help you with this. For me personally, those do not work because I do not fully comprehend my spending. There is just something about writing it down that actually helps me comprehend where my money goes. 

 

Another tip that has helped me through the years was carrying around a little notebook that fits in my pocket/wallet. Anytime I would spend money, write a check, transfer a balance, etc. I would write it down in the notebook as well as what the amount was for with the date. For example 2/15: $35.86 gas. This not only helped me realize how much money I spent but also the exact places all my money went. From coffee to gas to groceries, and even hanging with friends. 

Now because living on a budget is stressful. I was always looking for ways to make my dollar stretch and save as much money as possible. Over the years I found a few ways to save some extra cash and even earn a bit. 

 

Gas: 

  • Joined a grocery store that earned me points with each purchase. I was then able to use those points to get a discount on gas
  • I downloaded my gas station app. So many pas stations have apps where if you pay using the app you get a discount on gas. 
    • Cumberland Farms, Shell, Exxon Mobile, Sunoco, and many others have their own app check the app store!

Grocery:

    • Coupons! Make sure you either sign up for the local paper or however your town distributes its coupons 
      • Every grocery store has sales and discounts weekly no shame in shopping based on what is on sale in the coupons. 
    • Ibotta the app. 
      • Ibotta allows you to shop for healthy food all you have to do is see what items that week allows you to get points on. After shopping for those items you scan the receipt and sometimes the item and collect points. You can then cash those points out for cash. 
  • Pro tip always check Ibotta prior to shopping 
  • Join Grocery store rewards; they have extra discounts like $5/10 that is not advertised in the coupon book 

 

Other: 

  • Coupon books always check the coupons. They usually also have a discount on things like oil changes and even purchasing tires. 
    • Fun fact you can buy tires from another place (Say BJ’s or Cosco) and bring them to your auto body shop and they will replace them for you. You would just have to pay for labor. 
  • Fetch Rewards scan all your receipts! 
    • This is a great app where you can scan all your receipts from shopping, restaurants, and even grocery to earn points. You can then cash in your points for various gift cards or other services. 
  • Dosh Rewards app 
    • This is another shopping app they have cashback options on various purchases like hotels, clothing, uber, and many more. 
    • Just like Ibotta though, always check prior to shopping as some places have a rotation and are not always available. And some may be online only or in-store only. 
  • Sell old books
    • There are some places like old book stores or even old online where you can sell your old books. 
    • Also, you can save money on books by joining your local library or finding a neighborhood public library (Some neighborhoods have book swaps set up for everyone to enjoy) 
  • Sell your Clothes 
    • I have a ton of clothes that I never wear, don’t fit my style, don’t fit me, or are just unused I get rid of them 
    • Poshmark is great if you have designer clothes or items that are unused or even gently used this is a  great place to sell and even buy! 
    • Thread it up is an app where they mail you a bag. You fill the bag with old clothes, shoes, bags, and even accessories. Mail it back to them (free as long as it is 30lbs or less) and they will go through your items. Whatever passes they will sell, whatever does not pass they donate. If it passes you only have a certain number of days (usually 3 months or so) for someone to buy the item. Once bought they give you a portion of the proceeds. 

 

Pro Tip: You will have to check each app’s policy and rules. Some apps only allow you to cash out after a certain amount, and some apps will charge you or take some of your points/saved dollars if that app goes unused for long periods of time. Like I said each app is different and policies do change as well. 

 

Living on a budget is one of the hardest things. You feel like the world is against you and you are fighting this uphill battle. Not only do I hope all of these tips help you; but I also hope this encourages you to take a look at our spending and see how you can be a better spender. Now I do not want you to think that you have to live paycheck to paycheck forever. If you can get a second or part-time job to help build your savings that is also an option. However, I would consider asking for a raise first. 

 

I may not live paycheck to paycheck ow but I still live on a budget. I wasn’t always the best saver or even smartest spender. I struggled a lot, so I do say all of this as a person who has lived paycheck to paycheck. This should also go without saying there is no shame in living paycheck to paycheck, could you b living above your means sure (but today you’re going to take steps to fix that) but you are also probably underpaid. Don’t be embarrassed I know the struggle I have been there, and hopefully, this helps you create and grow your savings account. Hopefully, I have helped you and not scared you! – Your unofficial big sister KMH

 

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