Create a budget and stick to it. Determine what your basic expenses will add up to every month to make sure you don’t spend money you don’t have. These likely include:
- Rent and utilities. Depending on your living situation, you may be splitting these expenses with a roommate or a partner. Your landlord may also pay for your heat, or you may pay for your electricity every month.
- Transportation. Are you walking to work every day? Biking? Taking the bus? Carpooling?
- Food. Factor the average amount per a week for meals for the month.
- Health care. It is important you have health insurance in the event of an incident or accident, as paying out of pocket will likely be more expensive than being covered. Do some research online to find the best insurance rates.
- Miscellaneous expenses. If you have a pet, this could be where you determine how much pet food will be for the month. If you and your partner go for a date night once a month, factor this in as an expense. Account for every expense you can think of so you do not spend money without knowing exactly where it is going.
- If you have any debt payments, add these to your budget under necessary expenses.
Go shopping with a goal in mind. A goal could be: new socks to replace your holey pairs. Or, replacing your broken cellphone. Having a goal when shopping, especially for discretionary items, will stop you from spontaneous purchases. Focuses on one essential item when shopping also gives you a clear budget for your shopping trip.
- When food shopping, look at recipes beforehand and make a grocery list. This way, when you are in the store, you can stick to the list and know exactly how you are going to use every ingredient you buy.
- If you have a hard time sticking to a grocery list, try online grocery shopping. This will allow you to keep a running total of your purchases and be aware of exactly what you are spending.
Don’t get sucked into sales. Ah, the irresistible lure of a deal! Retailers are counting on their customers to get sucked in by the sales rack. It’s important to resist the temptation to justify a buy just because its on sale. Even big discounts can mean big spending. Instead, your only two considerations when shopping should be: do I need this item? And does this item fit within my budget?
- If the answer is no to these questions, it may be best to leave the item in the store and save your money on an item you need, rather than want, even if its on sale.
Leave your credit cards at home. Only take the cash you need, based on your budget, to get through the week. That way, you will have to walk away from an unnecessary purchase if you have already spent all your cash.
- If you do end up taking your credit card with you, treat it like a debit card. This way, every cent you spend on your credit card feels like money will have to pay back every month. Treating your credit card like a debit card means you won’t be so hasty to whip it out for every purchase.
Eat at home and bring your lunch. Eating out can get very expensive, especially if you’re spending 1000 naira a day, 3-4 times a week. Limit your eating out to once a week and then gradually, to once a month. You should notice how much money you save when you buy groceries and cook for yourself. You will also appreciate a nice meal out for a special occasion that much more.
- Bring your lunch to work every day, rather than shell out money for lunch. Take 10 minutes at night before bed or in the morning before work to make a sandwich and a snack. You will notice you save quite a bit of money every week by just bringing your lunch.
- Eat out sensibly. There is nothing wrong with buying lunch once in a while. But be aware of choices that are good deals. Check for lunch specials. Look for coupons. Try buying lunch at the grocery store rather than the chic cafe.
Do a Spending Fast. Test your spending habits by only buying what you need for 30 days or one month. See how little you can spend in one month by focusing on buying things you need, rather than things you want.
- This will help you determine what you consider a necessity and what you consider a nice to have. Beyond the obvious necessities like rent and food, you may reason that a gym membership is a need because it keeps you fit and feeling good. Or a weekly massage to help with your bad back. As long as these needs fit within your budget and you can afford them, you can spend money on them.
Go DIY. DIY or Do It Yourself is a great way to learn new skills and save money. There are many DIY blogs and books out that allow you to recreate expensive items with a limited budget. Rather than spend money on an expensive piece of art or a decorative item, make it yourself. This will allow you to create a custom item and stay within your budget.
- Websites like Pinterest, ispydiy, and A Beautiful Mess all have great DIY ideas for household items. You can also learn how to recycle items you already own and make something new with them, rather than spend money on a new item.
- Try doing household chores and activities yourself. Shovel your walkway yourself, instead of paying someone else to do it. Get the whole family involved in outdoor chores, like mowing the lawn or cleaning the pool.
- Make your own household cleaning items and beauty products. Most of these products are made of basic items you can buy at your local grocery store or health food store. Laundry detergent, all purpose cleaner, and even soap can all be made by hand, by you, for cheaper than store prices.
Put money aside for a life goal. Work towards a life goal, like traveling to South America or buying a home, by putting aside a set amount of money in your savings account every month. Remind yourself that the money you save by not buying clothing or going out every week will go to a bigger life goal.