Originally Published September 2012
Are you living paycheck to paycheck, just barely paying your bills each month and unable to save a dime? Then it’s time to follow these 10 simple tips to put some budge in your budget!
1. For one month, write down every thing you buy, whether it’s with cash, check or credit card-write it down. This will show you how fast your little everyday purchases add up. In fact, if you spend just $4 a day on coffee, that adds up to $120 a month and $1,460 a year!
2. Separate your needs and your wants, then prioritize your wants. Maybe that cup of coffee is worth giving up in order to save for a trip to Florida.
3. Create goals ranging from short to long term, so that you know why you really need to live within your means. A short term goal might include saving up for a weekend road trip, while a long term goal might include being able to retire by age 65.
4. Create a realistic budget and stick to it. If you don’t stick to your budget, you will end up right back where you started. Click here for a budget template.
5. Adjust your budget for any major life change, such as the birth of a child, retirement, etc and no less often than every five years as your needs and wants change.
6. Get out of high interest debt as soon as possible, such as credit card debt. Carrying these high balances will cost you a lot of money over time. If you owe just $1000 and pay the minimum each month, with an annual interest rate of 18%, you end up paying $1,684; that’s $684 in interest that you could have saved! Use tax returns and year end bonuses to pay off credit card bills, paying the ones with the highest interest rates first, and then moving to the next one and so forth.
7. Pay bills automatically, this way you avoid late fees, which could be up to $40 and can really add up over time.
8. Save automatically. Have money taken straight from your paycheck and put into a savings account. If you never see it in your take home money, you will be much less tempted to spend it.
9. Take advantage of your employers 401(k) and matching funds. This is one of the best ways to save money automatically and matching funds are as close to ‘free money’ as anyone will ever get, so make sure you get every dime allowed.
10. Last but definitely not least-always investigate your investment opportunities with the Indiana Secretary of State’s Securities Division. Even if you have some wiggle room in your budget, you could lose it all if you invest in a scam. So many cases of investment fraud can be avoided just by making sure the agent and opportunity are licensed and registered in the state of Indiana. To check the status of your agent or an investment opportunity, use our online searchable database at http://www.indianainvestmentwatch.com/ or call 1.800.223.8791.