New Year, New Budget

Today, too many Americans lack knowledge when it comes to setting budgets. We have good intentions, but sometimes it's hard keeping track of our spendings.

Whether you live paycheck to paycheck, or make over six figures annually, everyone needs to learn how to handle their finances. According to a recent New York Times study, over 55% of participants felt that they couldn’t successfully put together a long-term financial plan. 2018 is over so let’s make it a goal to set a 2019 financial budget ensuring you have enough funds for what you need!

Home:

Whether you’re a homeowner paying your mortgage, or paying rent to your landlord, you’re paying a monthly fee. While this is a big portion of the monthly/ annual budget for most, at the very least, it’s typically a flat rate and one you can plan for well in advance.

When it comes to utilities–electricity, gas, etc… this can be more difficult to budget since the charges usually vary. In the dead of winter you’re going to want the heat running to avoid freezing and in the summer, AC is a MUST! (at least for me it is)! Budget yourself by turning down the heat/ AC when you’re out for the day and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Phone and WIFI are typically seen as “needs” rather than “wants” especially if you work an office job. When it comes to cable however, do you really need that? Cut out cable and use Netflix or Hulu to watch all your favorite shows; better content and less cost!

Eating out/ Groceries:

I know, I know…it can be difficult saying “no,” when your coworkers invite you out to dinner after work; you don’t want to miss out on delicious food and a social event, but it adds up. Think of going out to eat as a treat rather than the “norm”. Instead of going out with friends, try something new and cook at home with them, you’ll be able to socialize and it’s a lot less costly!

Purchasing groceries for the week and planning meals ahead of time will save you money! Forbes, found that on average, eating out is three times more expensive than a meal kit, and FIVE times more expensive than cooking at home! Yes, you’ll spend more time cooking in your kitchen, but your wallet will end up thanking you in the long run!

Transportation:

Whether you own a car, or rely on public transit like the train or bus, Transportation is a necessity in life and a costly one at that. Unless you literally walk everywhere, all day, every day, you’re paying for transportation.

If you’re driving, gas prices are extremely costly each month; even with the price fluctuations, and it seems like a new rate every week, this is a large month line item. While we’re at the mercy of the oil companies and production, miles per gallon is something to consider when buying or leasing your next car, based on your needs and lifestyle.

Speaking of your next car purchase, think about buying a used car vs a brand new one right off the lot. No one really needs that brand new 60k Jeep when you can buy a used one for half the price… Yes, everyone wants to have the newest and the best, but do you need it? Budget yourself and save that extra money for gas and regular maintenance on your vehicle.

Entertainment:

Socializing and enjoying life is a must. If you’re not having fun and, you’ll go stir crazy doing nothing and missing out on the excitement all the time. This means travel, concerts, movies, going out to dinner, etc… But let’s face it–fun has a cost and can bust your budget quickly! To avoid this, try out some entertainment that’s more affordable. Instead of spending a small fortune at the movies every Friday night, watch a movie on Netflix at home with friends.

Plan that weekend getaway in advance and take advantage of some travel deals to get the most “bang out of your buck”, and make the most of some time off.

Remember, to limit yourself on the money that you have, you don’t want to find yourself in major credit card debt because you can’t focus on what you “need” vs what you “want”… save that 80 bucks each month and don’t buy that extra pair of jeans you don’t need!!

Tags
  • Budgeting
  • Entertainment
  • Food
  • Groceries
  • Mortgage
  • Public Transportation
  • Restaurants
  • Travel Planning
Written By
Leigh Cannon
Someone who always has a mind for saving money, no matter what the situation. Leigh thinks outside the box for ideas on how to keep money in your pocket in practical ways.