Who doesn’t want to save money and still live the good life? As the weekend approaches, I want to share how I budget for retirement and debt repayment and still have money left over to have fun.
Money is meant to provide security and enjoyment. You work hard for your money and it’s okay to spend it. Just not all of it. Here’s how I budget for the important stuff in life and you can too.
Organize Your Expenses
In order to save, you need to know where your money comes from and where it’s going. Your monthly expenditures are made of 2 types of expenses: fixed and variable.
These are expenses that you know you have to pay every month, no matter what. Not only that, the amounts are fixed and do not change from month to month. Your fixed expenses may include:
- Debt Repayment (auto loans, student loans, personal loans, etc)
- Car and Health insurance (if you pay monthly)
- Dues and Subscriptions
Tally up your monthly fixed expenses and subtract them from your monthly income.
There are also other expenses that you incur but are variable or irregular because the amount changes from month to month. They may include:
Since these expenses are irregular, it takes a little more work to pin down the monthly total. You can figure it out by calculating the average of your variable expenses and deducting them from income.
To get the monthly average, look at your expenses from the 12 months. You can do this by reviewing your credit card statements. This is one of the things I like about putting all my spending on a credit card. It gives me a record of all my spending.
If you choose to spend cash, that’s fine but it’ll take a little more work to reconstruct your spending. You can keep track of your spending for 3-4 months and take the average of your irregular expenses. Then, like you did with the fixed expenses, subtract these from your monthly income.
After subtracting all your expenses, tuck some money away for your retirement and how about putting some away in a rainy day fund, too. If you have money left over after all that, mazel tov. You can set aside some of the extra money to spend on whatever you want.
If you find that you hardly have money left over after paying all your bills, don’t despair. There are proactive steps you can take to make sure that you’re saving money and still able to live a good life. Let’s start by exploring expenses that can be removed.
The easiest way to have more money left from your paycheck is to cut expenses.
Can you get rid of cable? How about magazine subscriptions? Do you work out at a gym? By that I mean you pay for a gym membership but haven’t gone in months, lol. If you’re paying for things that you’re not using or can do without, get rid of them!
I love reading magazines before bed but I canceled all my subscriptions because I wanted to spend that money on something else instead. These days, so many magazines have well-maintained websites with tons of free content. I also check out magazines from the library which is totally free!!!
I also got rid of my gym membership that costs $22 a month because I never went to the gym… I’m so embarrassed by this. At least I read my magazine subscriptions. After close to a year of paying for something I wasn’t using, I finally contacted the gym and canceled my membership.
Right there is extra money that can be spent on stuff you actually use and enjoy. I know it’s not always possible to cut out entire categories of spending so that’s why I also focus on finding cheaper alternatives.
Find Cheaper Alternatives
I understand that you can’t eliminate all expenses overnight (or ever, let’s be honest), but every little bit counts. Cable used to be one of our biggest expenses. We were paying $120 a month for the privilege of having access to over 100 channels day and night.
Well, like a lot of people, we got tired of paying for that privilege and cut the cord. We weren’t able to get rid of TV watching completely so we signed up for Netflix and HBO NOW.
We also bought an antenna to get access to basic channels like NBC and CBS. With these simple steps, we were still able to enjoy a lot of TV shows but our monthly bill went from $120 to $30.
If you have a mortgage, is it possible to re-finance? If you rent, ask your landlord whether you can get a rent reduction or rent credit in exchange for performing maintenance on the house. Or, can you get cheaper rent if you pay 6 months in advance?
As a society, we aren’t used to bargaining but it never hurts to ask. The worst thing that can happen is you’re told no and you live life just as you did before.
Related posts on cutting costs:
- How to Stay Cool and Have Frugal Fun
- Must Try Ways to Have a Frugal Staycation
- 29 Frugal Date Ideas You Must Try
Make More Money
So you’ve cut expenses and found cheaper alternatives to your old spending habits but you still don’t have money left at the end of the month? It might be time that you think about ways to make more money. If you have a 9 to 5 job, you can ask for a raise. If you’re self-employed, you can try to find more clients.
I know it can sound daunting but you know what, if you want to make more money, you’re gonna have to take the first step. If neither of those options works for you, then you can explore side income options.
I recently applied to be a tutor on a website called Wyzant. I was able to find a student and arranged to tutor him over his summer break.
Is it hard work? Absolutely. But is it worth it? You bet it is. It’s nice to have extra income. I don’t feel as guilty spending it because I earned it outside of my 9 to 5 job.
I’ve also cleaned out things I don’t need and sold them on eBay. I previously mentioned how I sold a wristlet on eBay. If eBay’s not your thing, you can also sell things on Craigslist. Facebook also has a marketplace that focuses on your neighborhood.
I use an app called Nextdoor that’s meant for neighbors to keep an eye on each other and I’ve seen people sell stuff there, too.
Say you don’t have anything to sell, it’s okay. There are still options. You can offer to babysit, house sit, or dog sit. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you take steps to try to make extra money. Having extra money gives you breathing room and it allows you to spend money on things you like without incurring debt.
Related Content That Teach You How to Make Extra Money:
Enjoy Your Fun Money
Now that you’ve organized your expenses, cut expenses and found cheaper alternatives where appropriate, and make some extra side income, you can enjoy your fun money.
When you specifically save for fun stuff like vacations and dining out, you can spend that money without feeling guilty. You can relax and enjoy knowing that you didn’t take the money away from your saving goals or debt repayment.
It’s possible to save money and still enjoy the good things in life. You don’t have to deprive yourself. By following the steps outlined here, you can reach your financial goals and still have money left to spend on the here and now.