Is everything getting more expensive or are you making less than everyone else around you? It’s a question almost everyone appears to be asking these days. But it’s a rhetorical question because there are no clear answers.
While your money may not go as far as it used to in earlier years and you are doubling down on earning as much as you can,commuting faithfully to your job every day without ever calling in sick, there is, in fact, still plenty of room for financial balance. You can get ahead financially by spending less and saving money on your weekly expenses.
In fact, it might be easier than you think. It’s not all about how much things cost. The right approach to fulfilling your needs and balancing your budget is possible.
Here are some practical strategies to help you balance your monthly budget:
Skip the Coffee Shop
It’s only too easy to go out and spend a lot of money at a coffee shop for your favorite flavored coffee, latte, or cappuccino but you don’t have to do that. You can brew up delicious drinks like this at home by adding pumpkin spice syrup to your lattes for some nutmeg-and-cinnamon warmth to your coffee breaks.
If you go to coffee shops for the social benefits, simply invite friends over for coffee. Buy a few muffins, invite friends over, and catch up on everything. Or, if you use your coffee breaks for some alone time, you can still do this at home. Use your free time to unwind, enjoy your warm brew while watching a show on TV, surf social media, read a book, or sit out on your sunny deck and watch the squirrels play in the trees.
Spend Less at the Grocery Store
Why do you spend more than you want to spend when you go grocery shopping? It’s because you underestimate the temptations strategically placed all around you the minute the automated doors welcome you in. Advertisers spend millions on labels and colors and images to tempt you to pick up items and put them in your cart. While you may be able to resist a few things, it’s unlikely that you’ll resist them all. And, of course, if you go shopping while you’re hungry, you’re already in trouble.
What do thrifty people do that ordinary folks don’t do? They stay away from temptation. They don’t traipse through the inner aisles. They don’t investigate labels like sommeliers at a new wine store. They use coupons that haven’t expired. They don’t touch the toiletries. And they aren’t swayed by brand names and they don’t scan eye-level shelves where the priciest selections are stocked.
Appreciate Your Own Cooking
Yes, it’s easier to eat out, especially when you have had a busy day. And while it may not seem that expensive, it all adds up. It is cheaper to cook at home than to eat out, no matter how tempting the markdown specials promoted at your favorite deli may be. In fact, when you compare the cost of cooking at home with the cost of eating out, it isn’t even close. Cooking at home is always far less expensive than eating out.
But what if you don’t know how to cook? That may seem like a convincing argument, but consider an alternative question: What if you learned to how to love to cook? Imagine the delight you would experience in having your meals prepared just the way you like them.
Enjoy Movie Nights at Home
It’s fine to catch the latest releases when they just come out. It’s an opportunity for quality family time or a chance to hang out with your friends. But hedonic adaptation quickly sets in if you do it too frequently.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t watch movies the rest of the month. You can watch as much as you like at home with movie subscription services. Maybe your screen size and sound quality and luxury seating can’t compete with a theater’s equipment, but once the movie is showing, you lose all track of time and space anyway.
You can save money, week after week, month after month, by following these four simple tips. Rather than frittering away your money on minor luxuries that you can easily replicate at home, save your money for something else—a great vacation or money toward your retirement account, or both.