These easy tricks not only curb your spending, but help you save cash in the long run.
With gas prices soaring and grocery costs ballooning, many of us want to keep track of our money so we can cover everyday expenses and avoid going into debt. But with all the ways you can shop these days (online shoes, anyone?), sticking to a budget can be more difficult than ever. The good news: Wielding a little willpower and an easy plan, you and your family can get a grip on your finances, no matter what the economic future holds.
When you can see and touch the money you're using, you'll find it harder to overspend.
Deciding on a set amount of cash you can spend each week is a must. It's a foolproof system, because once the money's gone, it's gone. If you do end up with unspent money, reward yourself with a little splurge.
Every day, estimate how much cash you'll need for lunch, coffee and transportation and put only that amount in your wallet. Tuck an extra $20 in a hard-to-reach pocket of your purse for emergencies.
Nowadays, consumers treat debit cards like credit cards―which can lead to an overdrawn bank account and stiff penalties. Also, using a debit card for everyday necessities makes it a little too easy to shop impulsively and blow your budget. Trade in your debit card for a basic ATM card: Few stores will accept it for purchases, but it's good for banking functions like deposits and withdrawals.
Remember: Out of sight, out of mind. If there are certain stores or fast-food joints nearby that you find hard to resist, change your daily route so you don't pass by them.
Tempted to buy expensive shoes or another winter coat? Give yourself a day to think about it. Instead of suffering from buyer's remorse the next morning, you'll feel proud of your self-control (and you won't have to worry about shrinking closet space!).
You may do it for your kids, so there's no reason you can't pack lunch for yourself, too. It's a great money saver―if you bring lunch instead of spending $6.50 per day to buy it, you'll save almost $1,000 a year. Portable bags of snacks are also a good way to tame costly munchies when the drive-through beckons.
Sure, everyone loves a bargain, and those 50 percent off! signs can be hard to resist. But try to walk away from a great markdown if it means you'll end up with something you don't really need.
Of course you've heard it before, and you've probably tried. But aside from the major health benefits, consider this new incentive: Stop spending $4.50 for your daily pack of cigarettes and you'll save at least $1,600 a year.
All cell-phone plans are not created equal, and you shouldn't have to pay for features you don't use, or get hit with overage fees for features you use all the time. Speak with your service provider to figure out the best plan for you. Go with an option that gives you 10 percent to 15 percent more minutes than you think you need. It’s cheaper than always going over your limit.
If you sit down at the computer and tackle the bills on payday, you won't be able to spend the money on something else. Plus, you'll save on postage and late fees. Since online payments are usually processed the next business day, you'll get a more immediate idea of what's being deducted from your account than if you mailed a check (it's also quicker than getting a money order). Most companies have online payment options, or use the one your bank offers.