This post is all about the importance of budgeting without sacrifice. I also have several posts related to this about setting a budget which you may find helpful if you want to read more!
All Budget And No Play Makes For A Depressing Life
Many people assume if they put strict budgets in place, they will have to sacrifice elements of their lifestyle. I mean, just the word “budget” sounds so restrictive right?
But that doesn’t actually have to be the case.
It’s possible to manage a good and helpful budget without experiencing massive upheaval in terms of the way you live your life. As with all things though – there is a trade off.
You can afford anything, but not everything. – Paula Pant
Here I’ve listed some ways that will help you to tweak things in your budget so slightly that you won’t feel the pain much at all. You could go all out and extreme if you want to, but like a crash-diet of juice and berries, you’ll soon be gagging to sabotage yourself with a bar of galaxy and a bottle of merlot (just me?).
The moral here: slow and steady wins the sustainability race when it comes to lifestyle budgets!
Embrace Off-Season Deals on All Kinds of Things
First up: buy when no one else is. Off-season is going to become your best friend as you try to stick to a weekly budget while still doing and having the things you love. Instead of travelling during the summer, go in the off-season to save yourself a lot of money. Sadly this is tricky if you’re a teacher or have a job that has restricted leave allocation, but try wherever possible to book early and do your research.
Buying flights and accommodation separately may work out cheaper as can using air bnb or offering to house-sit for someone.
Also, instead of buying new clothing items from the latest range, wait until they go out of season and then save them for the following year. If you’re a die-hard fashionista and need to keep up with latest trends, why not just pick one trend to follow that is more likely to stay in fashion for longer, or buy accessories that give a nod towards a trend without breaking the bank. Personally I like buying classic styles that never go out of fashion and will just refresh them as needed with a few items.
Look For Savings In Your Own Home
How closely do you inspect your monthly bills? Do you switch regularly and shop around? Don’t worry if this is not something you do consistently – you’re not alone! Literally millions of people fail to review their bills on a yearly basis to make sure they’re on the best rates.
It can be an absolutely mine-field when trying to decide whether to switch or not. However, there are companies out there trying to help. For example, the money saving expert has now set up an energy club that finds the best deals for you. Just type in your details, and the calculator will give you an answer. I have set mine up so that it will alert me when new deals come on the market for both gas and electricity.
I have also recently come across an app called Onedox. It allows you to input all your household bills and will alert you when it appears you are paying too much for something and will offer you alternatives.
My essentials checklist could also help you to save money on your day to day bills. In this e-book, I have laid out a list of where else you could find savings to trim your budget down.
Cook Meals at Home
It’s an oldie but a goodie. Eating out is fun and saves you all the hard work, but it is costly, especially when you’re trying to stick to a budget. That’s why cooking your own meals at home will literally save you a packet!
The problem is, it takes discipline. I know myself that I can have a run of eating out all the time, especially when I’m busy or feel like being lazy. The trick is to recognise it is happening by reviewing your spending regularly, and then taking steps to reduce it.
If you can, save going to restaurants for date-nights and celebrations. That way, they stay a treat and you’ll appreciate them more. Combine this with something like a tastecard and you’ll get discounts on it too!
Failing that, I love using the app Too Good To Go. This app allows me to buy food that will be thrown out by the restaurant to try and avoid excessive food waste. The food that you buy is still fresh and in date, and because it will be thrown if not sold, it is CHEAPER too! I will never pay full price for Yo Sushi again!
Occasionally Delay Payments by Using Credit Cards (just be careful!)
Credit cards aren’t the solution to every financial situation, and certainly avoiding them if you’re prone to getting into debt is the safest advice, but when you’re trying to build a good credit score, spread payments for large purchases that you have no savings for and stick to a budget each week, it can actually be good to make use of them, providing you are savvy.
But I will say this:
Do your research!
Do your research!
Do your research!
0% is the best idea by far if you’re going to use one.
If you can’t go for 0% due to your credit score, find credit cards for average credit and choose the one that best meets your needs with the LOWEST interest rate possible.
I would definitely recommend trying an eligibility calculator to see if a particular credit card is right for you BEFORE you apply (and avoid harming your credit score). If you do this carefully, it could help you out massively.
If however you are not actively ensuring the credit card is being paid off as fast as possible, I would steer well clear.
Stay Entertained by Doing Things That Are Free and Fun
You don’t have to stop having fun or being entertained just because you’re trying to stick to a budget. Instead, you just need to take advantage of the many free ways in which you can have a good time. Spending time with friends and doing things that don’t put a huge strain on your bank balance is always possible, so make sure you pursue those options in the future.
Also, when you set up your budget, allow some of the money to be spent on fun things only. This money is allowed to be blown, “guilt-free” every month. If you want to save it for something bigger like a spa weekend, then try not to go more than 3 months before spending it. By dedicating some of your money to fun, you build in a pressure-valve into the stress of trying to stick to a budget. Without it, you run the risk of blowing it all a few months later and starting back from square one again!
This is certainly going to be a pretty big challenge for you and your family, so if you want to stick to it and enjoy the whole process, you’re going to have to get fully invested in it. That’s not always easy to do when you’re having difficulties and experiencing the usual struggles of life, but enjoying the process will help you stick it out. It’s also a great thing to teach children at an early age.
Just because you want to balance your finances and get things back on track, that doesn’t mean you have to give things up in the other areas of your life. As these ideas show, you can make real and lasting changes in order to manage your budget without sacrificing anything huge.
Now its your turn. What tricks do you use to stick to a budget? Leave me a comment below!
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Every week I'll send you something inspiring, useful and fun related to our favourite m-word.....MONEY! I look forward to "meeting" you. Love, Dr Nikki x