Shopping for gifts over the holidays is enough to drive anyone down the financial rabbit hole. I, personally, am too scared to even open my banking app and have my shopping regret staring back up at me. If you’re anything like the typical person after Black Friday, you probably spent far too much on presents and not enough where that money was actually supposed to go. But have no fear, these tips and tricks will send you into recovery mode and have you more financially stable than ever.
Draft A Flexible Budget Plan
This should always be your first step. Do you even know how much you’re spending each month? If you’re similar to me, I set up automatic payments for everything and have 0% clue what I have at any given time. Stop and evaluate what’s in your accounts and what you owe. I take a pen and paper and write out how much money I actually have then go down the list of primary expenses: rent, utilities, car payments, insurance, etc. After that, deduct how much you spend on secondary expense: gas, groceries, pet supplies. This new number is what you should classify as “spending” money. Your final step is to take this amount and put 5-10% in savings. After a few months, you’ll always have a solid understanding of your financial situation.
Withdraw Cash And Never Touch Your Card
Seriously – once you have something tangible to hold and look at, you won’t be swiping your card for Doritos or Taco Bell as you realize how fast that tangible money goes. My go to trick is taking out $200 every two weeks (every pay period) while the rest goes to rent, utilities, or various other bills. This allows me to budget out gas, food, and fun money for each week accordingly – all while physically being able to see where my money is going. Trust me, this shit keeps you responsible and accountable for all of your purchases.
Save Your Change
My boyfriend has a change cup in our bedroom on the dresser. Each night, he digs through his pockets and wallet and throws in all his change into the cup. It won’t take long for you to fill it up to the brim. We sat at a CoinStar one morning thinking he’d only accumulated about $20 – but that cup contained $75! That $75 is almost an entire car insurance payment that would have otherwise been sitting in a cup holder in his car or at the bottom of my purse. Long story short, change adds up.
Create A New Bank Account
Typically you only need about $250 to start a new account, but this new account is more important than you think. Each pay period, set aside a designated percentage (note: not dollar amount) to deposit into this new account, about 5-10% is reasonable. When you set everything up, make sure your previously existing accounts can’t tap into this new account if you overdraft. The point of this is to establish secured savings that you can only touch if you are actually in desperate need – and no, that Kate Spade purse is not an emergency, though I’d like it to be.
Limit How Often You Eat Out
My boyfriend and I used to eat out twice a week every week and go to our favorite cafe once a week. Each week, we were spending roughly an addition $56 per week together on food that we could make at home (I mean, I just like pasta a lot. Who can resist?). I saved a lot of money by buying my own coffee syrups and making my own lattes. I also religiously look up new cheap and easy recipes with ingredients I already have. We’ve agreed to go out to eat only once per month and instead, we’ll make a fancy meal at home to celebrate special occasions. Just by cooking at home, I can recreate my favorite pasta meals without ever pausing Friends once!
After getting these tricks into motion, you’ll feel more confident than ever about your finances. Or, at least you won’t get that sinking feel when people mention the word bills or overdraft anymore. Actually, you might even feel satisfied when you get your first bank statement in the mail and see some real savings going on. Go you!