• Tips and Tricks to Living on a Budget

  • by Nate Nordstrom

If you’ve ever tried to budget, you’ll know that it is difficult. According to the New York Times, “Sticking to a budget — a dirty word even among many financial planners, who prefer the more euphemistic “spending plan” — feels too much like dieting. And we often fail at both for the same reasons…” However, with a few tricks, you may actually be able to maintain your budget and live with a little less financial stress.

Become Disciplined and Sacrifice the Unnecessary

One thing I have found throughout reading books and learning how to save money from others who have done it, is not only does it require discipline, but it may also require some sacrifice. Taking out the superfluous expenses can help you stretch your budget big time. I know many people who pay for a coffee in the morning every single day of the week. If you buy a $3 coffee every single day, that turns into about $1,095 a year. Let’s add lunch to that. If you spend $10 on lunch every day, that equates to $3,650 at the end of the year. That’s nearly $5,000 dollars wasted every year when the cost of consuming both products can be reduced. Instead of buying a $3 coffee, you can make coffee at home. If you bring a lunch to work instead of going out, you can cut down weekly costs dramatically.

Save Before You Spend

This is personally the most effective way I save and budget money. If you think of your savings account as a bill that needs to be paid every month, this will allow for you to grow your savings account. You’ll see this as a financial necessity instead of an option.

Pay with Cash

Something about me likes to pay with a note (cash) because I have to physically use the money. I see it. I feel it. I have to physically give it away. It makes me think twice about spending money. If I don’t have enough cash in my pocket, I probably shouldn’t buy it or I just can’t afford it. It’s a great tool to use to trick yourself into not buying things you don’t need. You can add onto this by starting a change or money jar, where you donate smaller bills (one’s and five’s) leftover in your wallet at the end of the day. Then, you treat yourself at the end of the month or end of the year to whatever you have saved in the jar.

Budgeting isn’t easy nor is it fun, but it accomplishes a goal and a mission. Imagine how good you would feel at the end of the year if you saved an additional $1,000 – or more? It’s not impossible at all, it’s easily obtainable for everyone and these tricks may just help you get there.