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When you have discussions around saving money and making sure you’re balancing your income and expenses, the discussion inevitably comes back to one simple game plan.
Having a budget is a make or break endeavor when it comes to being able to save money, and as much as you think your budget is iron clad, you have to realize that you’ve probably got a few holes in it.
Sure, you have all the major players accounted for in the collection that is your budget. Your car loan, your mortgage payment or rent, and all the utilities and credit cards you’re paying on consistently (of course if you want to keep your credit score up to par).
But what typically kills the budget are those aforementioned “holes,” which would be described as smaller expenses that typically slip through the cracks and end up costing you thousands of dollars per year, and you don’t even realize it because they’re deemed so inconsequential.
The funny thing about your budget is it almost always accounts for trips to the grocery store for the weekly or biweekly shopping list, but what about adding line items for the miscellaneous stores such as drug stores or big box membership club stores? Think about the last time you did that buying in bulk trip; where did that money come from as it relates to your budget? The drug store also can lead to buying anything from cleaning products to vitamins, and that can be a substantial amount of money.
Speaking of substantial, what about that cable bill? Well, not like you’re thinking as far as making sure the $200 cable bill is on your budget but rather kudos for canceling it. But what about making sure you take into consideration the replacement plan for not having cable. Maybe you’re going to the movies once per week or you’re subscribing to a streaming service such as Hulu or Netflix, and maybe you added satellite radio or Spotify for your music needs (now that cable is gone). Those $9.99 bills add up quickly, so you could end up missing what amounts to $50 or $60 per month, which equates to more than $600 per year, and can be anywhere up to a thousand in that 12 month time span.
Your budget is your lifeline when it comes to paying bills on time and subsequently saving money but if your total expenses aren’t truly a “total” or completely accounted for then having said budget won’t matter all that much.
The phrase “living paycheck to paycheck” isn’t hard to decipher, as far as what they means to you financially. Essentially, you can’t save money and you’re just barely getting by, perhaps making your bills and not having much money leftover for anything else.
And you certainly don’t have money to start saving or have some spare cash lying around for that proverbial “nest egg” everyone is always talking about or developing a game plan for retirement.
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you’re really missing out on what matters and retiring from work hardly is on the table or at the forefront.
Every money expert or financial guru will tell you that you need to stop living paycheck to paycheck, but that is often easier said then done.
Beating the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle is more about a mindset then anything else, although having a budget won’t hurt, either. That mindset is about taking what you make, your income, and looking long and hard at that number and taking about 30 percent off that total. That 30 percent is what is going into the bank for you to save, and the rest of the 70 percent is for your bills. Simply put, you have to live like you make less than what you really do.
That means having the necessities and anything else that fits under a banner, a number, a total amount that is less than what you actually bring home every month.
Now, as much as you can have the right mentality, that still doesn’t excuse you from having a viable budget to work with as it relates to knowing the stats, numbers and figures to make that newfound outlook that much brighter.
If you have to make difficult decisions, that is part of the process of not only budgeting but also downsizing if need be. If your house is too big and too expensive, you have to move to a smaller one or perhaps consider renting, that will allow you to build that much needed emergency fund.
That debt you’re carrying also can’t be ignored and you have to develop a plan to start paying off the small debt first so progress can be seen, and then keep the minimum payments going on the latter. As time progresses, you’ll start to see that debt paid down, and even if that means you go a few years without cable or a cell phone plan that is high on data that you really don’t need.
At that rate, your paycheck to paycheck days will be numbered.