If you often find yourself living from check to check, it’s probably time to switch things up a little. Your financial situation is yours and yours alone to be responsible for, and that always starts with the first step towards a financially secure future.
After all, being broke is no fun. Barely making ends meet is a tough situation to be in –and not a way to live long term. Investing some time planning out your personal finance can involve some pretty difficult decisions too, but it doesn’t have to always be that way!
How? It’s simple.
Self-budgeting sounds a lot more daunting than it actually is. But for a minute, let’s just forget about setting impossible regulations that would most likely fall through anyway. Budgeting is so much more than stacking up cash mindlessly. The essence of every good budgeting plan is to adopt one that already would complement your daily activities. That way, instead of looking at budgeting as a chore –it’s a positive habit that you’re more than happy to carry out for the greater good.
If you need an idea of where to start –look no further. Below is a list of HUSTLR’s customized and updated budgeting hacks to kick off your 2019. It’s never too late!
1. Comparison Shopping
Yeap, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Comparison shopping is a term coined by consumers who actively seek out and compare the prices of product and services with various sources; in order to get the best deals out of all of them.
Here’s an example of how comparison shopping works. Imagine spotting what you think is a great deal on a pair of jeans at Zara. Whilst that would be priced anywhere from $99-$150 –you could also get an exact replica of those jeans on websites like Boohoo and ASOS for less than half that price.
Granted that you may not always manage to find branded, premium quality items – do imagine how much you may end up saving eventually. Being broke with expensive taste is totally fine if you need to pamper yourself every once in a while, but always keep in mind that your lifestyle goes according to your budget. Not the other way around, folks. The pressure to ‘fit in’ and go along with what everyone’s wearing, or snag the latest ‘revolutionary’ tech is real. Don’t be led astray.
This is why it’s important to take your time, put some research behind each purchase and work towards becoming an informed consumer 24/7! When shopping for products especially, factor in luxury/branded items as something that you only get to afford once in two months. If it’s above the $500 range –let’s try once in 6 months.
Comparison shopping is an absolute hack when it comes to policing your budget. To streamline this, create a list that allows you to immediately bookmark ‘branded’ items that catch your eye. Whenever you’re in need of said item –just search Google for ‘shop affordable ______ online’ and voila!
2. Checking ‘vampire’ subscriptions
Nope, we’re not talking about your unlimited access to vampire fanfiction. In this context, vampire subscriptions are those pesky fees that automatically deduct (and suck the life!) straight from your bank account.
Subscription companies are insanely easy to sign up for. A click here, email address there, credit card number over here –and you’re locked until further notice. Digital streaming services (Netflix, Hulu) and music subscriptions (Tidal, Spotify) may promise to only deduct a minimal fee. The price of a cup of coffee; they say.
Get carried along with the crowd and you can just as easily forget how much we’re spending on the little stuff.
To avoid this, start by setting a day every 2 months or so to go through your credit card statements. Do you really still need that Hulu monthly access after your favorite show just got cancelled? If your answer is not really, then be away with it ASAP! No second thoughts, no hesitation. After all, you can always sign up for another account in the case you stumble upon something else interesting.
If your answer is yes, a good rule of thumb is to also check out their various pricing structures to see which one suits you best. Most streaming services offer family packages, so you might want to grab your sister or brother and divide the fee instead. Better yet, even check with your friendly neighbour if there’s an opportunity to share accounts!
3. Practice ‘no spending’ days
When is the last time you remember having a picnic with your friends? Or staying in to watch a movie with your partner? We mentioned that self-budgeting is beneficial in more ways than one, and this is definitely proof of it.
In this whole list, no-spend days are probably the most challenging of the bunch. It requires you to set aside a day in a week if you’re adventurous maybe two- to completely omit spending money.
Here’s what you can do. Pick up a phone and call over a friend for a home-cooked meal. Finally getting around to bathing your dog. Read that book you’ve been meaning to all this while.
No-spend days might prove to be difficult if you’re on the move and require cash to get around. On weekends, however, it is 100% achievable! If you can’t commit to a full day of not spending –little steps are totally fine as well. For instance, just choosing to postpone a cinema date till after you get your salary is a good start as well. You want to practice self discipline from time to time and incorporate delayed gratification into your life.
When it comes to budgeting; the ability to say no is highly underrated. Spending on yourself is one thing –but a whole chunk of our budget can easily be wasted on excessive, expensive outings with your friends as well. Peer pressure should never be an excuse for you to feel like you have to spend money in order to hang out. When the time’s not right –stick to your principles. Say no every once in a while, your bank account will thank you.
4. Set up your savings account
You’ve successfully accumulated some cash from self-budgeting. Now what? Stashing away your savings is the next step to finally being in charge of your finances.
We understand the option to ‘wave’ your card around for every purchase is hard to resist! More and more brands, retail outlets, restaurants, and other businesses are completely discarding their ‘minimum purchase’ policy –to encourage the growing fleet of card users to ‘wave’ away.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to start investing in a solid savings account. Conduct in-depth research and comparison of banks in your area that offers customized solutions for your needs. Elements to look at would be deposit options, interest rates, etc. to really get the best out of your stash.
Note that your savings account is just that. For your savings only. No subscriptions, online transactions or any other forms of payment should be connected to this account. This savings account should be saved for long term purchases (weddings/vacations) or for your rainy day fund. Take it to another level by opening separate savings accounts for different purposes to help you plan out your finances better.
5. Credit Card Rewards
Credit card companies get a bad rep, but that’s not always the case. There are many card companies that strive to offer their consumers with the best value possible. Many of them do this through none other than special rewards
Redeemable awards are gifted to credit card holders for making frequent purchases –so why not take advantage of it? Most companies generally do provide app platforms for their consumers to crosscheck points and rewards; so make sure that’s on your weekly to-do list! Here, you can access various deals across culinary experiences, shopping, and entertainment, as well as gadgets.
However, it is easy to get carried away with this. What you should definitely not do in this situation is unnecessarily swipe your card in the hopes of ‘qualifying’ for more deals. This type of behavior is counter-productive –and you wouldn’t be saving on anything.
So there you have it! As illustrated above, self-budgeting should always be incorporated as a way of life instead of a temporary fix. It pays to be dedicated to the cause –and to see it through amidst every challenge thrown at you. However, it would actually work against your favor if you give yourself too much of a hard time self-budgeting.
Growing your finances are supposed to be exciting, not scary!
Start by giving yourself a realistic, achievable goal by the end of 6 months. If it’s along the lines of $1500 by 6 months; that should look like $250/month until the end of the duration. A great plus point to self-budgeting is also having a fellow family member or friend that you trust (and we mean with your life!) to keep you on track. Notify them about your personal plans to grow financially –and urge them to help you follow exactly what you said you were going to.
At the end of it all, self-budgeting is about putting your mouth where your money is. Don’t just go on obsessing over how much you could make; work towards the first step! The choice, -like everything else to do with your financial prosperity- is entirely in your hands.
Jeremy has been running several online businesses behind his laptop for the past 5 years and he has worked as a freelance web developer previously. A trained marketer by profession, he also has Ruby on Rails and web development knowledge. His forte lies in eCommerce, SEO and content marketing. He’s been featured on Vice, Thrive Global, YFS Magazine, Forbes and several other publications. He prefers to connect with people on LinkedIn.