A while back, I participated in a collaboration with a few frugal ladies and we talked about the ways that we have failed and won at being frugal. I had a lot of fun with that post, so today I want to talk about the ways that being frugal can improve your budget.
First, let’s talk about the budget. When you budget your money, do you wonder where your money went at the end of the month? I had the same problem when I started budgeting. After a few months of that cycle, I realized that I was budgeting the wrong way. My old way of budgeting was called forecasting. Forecasting is when you plan what your money will do before you receive it. What happens if your check is late, or a different amount than you planned for? This is great for people that have control of their finances and just want to know where to put their money in the future. This is not good for someone that wants to live a frugal life.
Budgeting is now something that I do after I have received my paycheck. When I receive the money, I determine where each dollar will be spent. If I need to add money to a few of my sinking funds, I do that as well. This helps me control where my money is spent and how far it stretches. Tracking my money during the month also ensures that I am on track and not going over my budget. If I am close to my budgeted amount for groceries, I know that I need to spend less on my next shopping trip. This gives me peace of mind because I know that I have money available for the things that I need.
Now let’s talk about being frugal. Living a frugal lifestyle requires a bit of sacrifice. You must find the balance between saving money and going overboard. This is a thin line. For me, I cut back where I can and only spend money on things that are necessary. I have noted a few things that have helped me improve my budget lately.
1. Use Coupons for Groceries
This is the easiest way that I have found to improve my budget. Groceries are not a miscellaneous expense. We know that we must eat to live, so meals should be included in your four walls (food, shelter, clothing, and transportation). I have found that planning meals and using grocery lists are the best way to stay within my budget. When the list is complete, search for coupons that match things that are on the grocery list (not the other way around). I like to buy the Sunday newspaper from Dollar Tree for my coupons. It costs $1 plus tax. I also check Ibotta to match products as well. The great part about this is, you can use coupons AND Ibotta for the same item. That means double savings for you!
2. Cancel the Gym Membership
This is the time of year where everyone is pumped about joining the gym and losing weight. While I believe that new year’s resolutions are great, we must be realistic about what it will cost us throughout the year. Gym memberships could cost anywhere between $10 and $100 per month. To determine if this makes sense for you, ask yourself if you will make it to the gym at least twice per week. Most of us will not. Life gets in the way and the gym becomes the last thing on our daily to-do list. To improve your budget, try walking or running in your neighborhood. There are also free workouts on YouTube that you can complete at home. This will save you up to $100 per month!
3. Cutting the Cable Cord
Cable is one of the luxuries that are nice to have, but not necessary while living a frugal life to get out of debt. Cutting cable can save up to $150 per month depending on the package that you currently have. The internet has made it so easy to watch television without cable. There are many cable alternatives to choose from. My streaming service of choice is Hulu. I can watch most shows the day after they air and I love to watch TV on my own terms. The best part is the option to binge watch shows while I blog.
Hulu allows potential customers to try out the service for free for two weeks. They also offer a referral program for anyone that signs up for the service. Use my referral link and head to Hulu to start your free trial!
As you can see, being frugal can improve your budget drastically. These three tips alone can save you around $300 per month. Friends and family members may think that you are crazy, but you know that you have a goal. Do all that you can to reach your goal. Make simple changes to your budget now so that you will pay down your debt faster. Being frugal is hard, but it is worth it in the end.
Question of the Day: How has being frugal improved your budget so far this year?
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