So, you're a grown up now and have real expenses. Like a mortgage, or at least rent, car payments, insurance, etc. Let me stress first and foremost, these things are far more important than whatever little thing you are wearing on any given day. But, if you're like me, having something nice on just makes life so much more darn fun! So, here's some budget cutting tips on how to squeeze the most out of your pennies so you can get that Coach bag you'd like to have...
#1 - My biggest advice is DON'T get into credit card debt. It's not worth it in just about any case. I know times are hard, but is your trip out to dinner or that fabulous haircut worth 20% interest or whatever cards are asking these days?? Credit cards in and of themselves are fine, I know a lot of people who have them but they pay them off each month. If this is you, you go girl. If you can't do that, save yourself the trouble and get rid of those cards.
#2 - Food and drinks
Food can be divided up into 2 areas: Groceries and Restaurants. With groceries, it takes a little more time to save, and it seems more like nickle and dime saving, but it will add up over the course of a month. Buy stuff that's on sale whenever possible, and use coupons on the sale stuff if you have them. Our last grocery trip we saved 34% by buying sale items and using coupons. It was awesome!
With restaurants, you have to look at your lifestyle. Sometimes you have friends who want to go out 3 times a week, and its sort of built into your social life. If this is the case, it will be tricky to cut back. But couldn't you eat at Chipotle and split that giant burrito with a friend rather than going to Outback steakhouse? ($3 a person instead of $20 a person!!) I love to eat out, but I try to avoid "sit down" restaurants as much as possible because then you have to get an entree, drink, and tip at least 20%. It adds up fast. Also, I LOVE Starbucks, but my husband bought me an $80 frappuccino maker for Christmas several years ago, and it's saved me hundreds and hundreds in blended beverages. Make your own coffee as much as possible. Get a fun travel mug and take it with you so you've got it all morning.
#3 Personal Expenses
This is a controversial area and will vary wildly from person to person. But, here's some things I cut back on for a bag or shoes.
- I cut my own hair. Yes, that's right, I hack into my hair like some explorer in the great jungle with a machete. I'm lucky to have curly hair, and it hides a ton of mistakes. I also borrow my sister's thinning shears to thin it out. I'm still getting compliments on my hair, so it's working. I save $60 a month this way. Also, I color my own hair on the rare occasions when I feel like it needs perking up. I save another $60 this way.
- I don't get manicures or pedicures. There's nothing wrong with them, but I'd rather blow my money on something I can keep.
- I only buy just the makeup I need, and from wal mart or the grocery store.
This is an area where it's really easy to save. As long as you aren't a special size like my 6'6" husband. Clothes add up FAST, and usually occupy the same money in your budget as a bag or nice shoes. So, what I do is get clothes at the thrift store, Old Navy clearance, or a consignment store (Jcrew pants for $9!). Just make sure they're cute and fit you well. Consignment stores are awesome because they charge very little for quality clothes and are usually comparable to old navy prices. AND when you're done with the clothes, you can often re-consign them at the same store and get some of your money back!! (usually in store credit) /then the next time you go into the store, you might just walk out with some new clothes for FREE.
# Electronics stuff
How much do you pay a month for texting? A data plan? Your Iphone? For some of you, these are totally necessary for your business etc, but do you REALLY need a $60 per month unlimited data plan just so you can occasionally check the internet while you're stuck in traffic? See if there's a way to cut on things in your cell phone bill. A $40 a month savings is a really nice pair of shoes at the consignment store, or a cheap Coach bag on ebay (see previous blog on designer bags on ebay for under $40).
Do you watch enough tv to justify that cable bill? If you have a man in the house, this is probably HIS luxury and will be non-negotiable, so just skip that argument.
We have expanded cable, but not premium cable, and we Netflix like crazy. If you have a Wii or Xbox, you can watch Netflix on your TV through them. We still pay a lot a month, but we skip the DVR and anything that involves buying a converter or extra box.
So, how much did you save by just reading this?? Could you afford....
And maybe even...this??