Throughout the month of March, I will be highlighting a video series. I will be including videos from YouTube that highlight different aspects of the financial journey. As I have discussed in previous posts. The financial journey to wealth is a long one with various pieces. Today’s video highlights budgeting. These videos will be short and to the point. I hope they provide an alternative method to providing information on the financial journey process.
In theory, budgeting should be pretty simple. You make money, you spend money. Sometimes you make more than you spend (Good budgeting!), and other times you spend more than you make (Digging yourself into debt). Once you have downloaded the free budget spreadsheet: Monthly budget example.
For some budgeting income is pretty simple, it used to be for me. I was a full-time salaried employee who made the same amount each month. For others budgeting income is not all that simple. If you are in a commissioned sales role, your money could fluctuate every month. Not having a guaranteed income every month means that you have a further responsibility to budget your income correctly.
Budgeting expenses can be tricky in certain instances as well. Some expenses will stay the same every month: rent, mortgage, cellphone. While others will fluctuate depending on the time of year: utilities, gas, travel. Although these “fluctuating” expenses can be hard to determine, in the big picture of things your monthly expenditures SHOULD (and for your financial sake NEED) to be less than your monthly income generated.
So how did I save a quick $250 a year in the expense portion of my budget?
All I did was… Shop around for automobile insurance. This doesn’t sound fancy at all, but having an extra $20 a month freed up in my budget was something to get excited about. Say you’ve been with the same car insurer since you first started driving; chances are you have a discount for that. However, calling other insurance companies to get free quotes is not only easy, but it is a simple way to cut your expenses. I was with the same car insurer since I turned 16. I thought I was getting a great deal all along. However, when I called a few other insurers, I found a much cheaper rate. So cheap in fact, that it allowed me to save over $250 a year just on my car insurance (FYI, USAA has the best insurance rates and customer service). That savings freed up an additional $20 a month in my budgeted expenses. I could use that extra $20 any way I like.
You can save with almost every expense you have. Whether it is renegotiating your cable bill, or shopping around for car insurance. Find one expense category in your budget where you can chop out a little change. The extra money can be used to pay off debt, go into savings, or fund a weekend getaway. When it comes to budgeting, your expenses are half of the battle. Lowering your monthly expenses is a great way to make your income go further.
Budget Smart, Invest Wise
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How do I eat on $100 a month? I will tell you some tips for how I manage my grocery bill. This $100 a month category includes all of the food I purchase at grocery stores along with some occasional household supplies, laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc. I have a separate row in my budget for “eating out”. I eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and a couple snacks throughout the day. I do not starve myself or eat Ramen and PB & J’s. I am able to eat healthy and consume items such as chicken, pork, fish and beef. Lastly, I am only supporting ONE person with this grocery budget, no kids or anyone else.
Here are my 5 Keys for a $100/month grocery bill:
1) Make a list: I make a list with all of the items I need beforehand. This prevents impulse shopping or the purchasing of WANTS instead of NEEDS. Always make a list!
2) Only buy items on sale: If chicken is on sale for $1.99/lb, I buy many pounds of it and place it in separate Ziploc bags in the freezer. Additionally, I buy fruits and veggies that are on sale. It might be apples and carrots one week, strawberries and cucumbers the next week.
3) Go generic: I will be the first to agree that some generic products do not taste as good as the original (i.e. Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup), but find out what generics are the same for you. Whether it is nuts, chips or cereal, find out where you can save that extra dollar.
4) More prep time equals more food: I can buy a box of dry brown rice for the same price I can buy four microwaveable pouches. The difference is that the box of dry rice yields twice as many servings as the “convenient” pouches.
5) Don’t waste food: This is a big one for me. Whatever I buy, I eat. I never let food go bad. Google a recipe for a food close to its expiration date or something that didn’t taste as good as you thought. Any food that you throw away is harmful to your budget.
These are 5 things I do to keep my grocery bill low every month. See if you are able to incorporate any of these into your shopping trips. If you have any additional tips, leave them in the comments section below.