EducationFinanceSkills

Whether you are extremely cautious about how you spend your money or you only check your bank statement once in a blue moon, keeping on budget can be difficult when we least expect it. Maybe you grab dinner with a friend and it ends up costing more than you thought, or you need to make a last minute purchase that you can’t find at a discount. Whatever it may be, here are some ways to help keep you on budget no matter what hiccups come your way.

  1. Buy in “Bulk”. This tip may seem counter intuitive, but hear me out. Think carefully about the things you’re constantly re-purchasing, whether they’re razor blades, toilet paper, laundry detergent, rice, pasta, so on and so forth. If you know that you use certain things over and over without fail, consider buying in “bulk.” That doesn’t mean buying 1,000 units of toilet paper at a time, but instead of grabbing a pack of four rolls every week try buying a 16 or 24 pack online for less cost per roll. It may seem frustrating to spend more money than you’re used to at once, but in the long run you can be saving a lot more. Food can be a bit tricker – make sure you’re only buying non-perishable goods that you can store in a cool, dry space.
  2. Always Make a Shopping List. When you head to the grocery store or mall – or even a restaurant for that matter – without having thought through what you need, you’ll be more likely to throw unnecessary things in your cart that you want in that moment but regret later. Go through your refrigerator and pantry and sort out what you already have so that you don’t buy duplicates. When you go to the mall, park closest to the store you’re going to and make a beeline once you get inside. Don’t let your eyes wander or else your money might, too.
  3. Know What Your Necessities Cost. Sit down and plot out what you need to pay every month. This includes bills, groceries, transportation – the basics that you can’t go without. Add all those numbers up and subtract it from what you’re earning, and you’ll have a more realistic understanding of how much extra money you really have. Consider putting another 10-20% of that “extra” money away in a savings account. Without knowing your bottom line you’re sure to overspend.
  4. Set Aside Spending Money. It’s a great idea to build in spontaneity and fun into your life. Set aside a “fun” fund and keep that money separate from your necessities and savings. It might help to keep this extra spending money in cash form, so that you have a tangible idea of how much there really is to spend each week. Sometimes swiping a card allows us to dissociate from the fact that we are spending money, and we tend to over-do it.
  5. Create a Long Term Goal. Think about your financial goals. This doesn’t need to be super complicated. It can be as simple as “I want to save $100 in the next five months.” That means that you need to be putting aside $20 each month to hit that goal. Maybe there’s something you need to buy for work or school – figure out how much that will cost and set a goal to be able to afford it and in what amount of time. Long term goals can be as basic as you want them to be – the main point is that you’ll be learning how to save little by little and it won’t feel as overwhelming.

Good luck with staying on budget and let me know what your tips are!

Image: Flickr

EducationSkills

Growing up means independence. However, there is also new responsibility. An easy way to simplify your life? Create a budget. It sounds boring, but honestly it requires almost no maintenance and very little time to actually do. Here’s a simple way of creating a budget:

Find Out How Much Money Is Coming In

This is the easiest thing to do. Total up your paychecks, or if you are receiving money from your family, total up how much they are giving you. It is worth knowing how much you have saved in case of an emergency.

Total Your Old Bills

This one is a little less fun. Go through your old bills. Look back every month or every three months at everything you have spent money on. You will notice trends and and can figure out the average or the most you spent in the span of a few months. This way you can determined how much money you need to save every month.

Think of Upcoming Expenses

If you have tuition or a trip coming up, that will use up a chunk of the money you are making. You don’t want to spend what you don’t have. Plan for the future so you do not overspend and get blindsided.

Find How You Can Save

If you are spending more than you are bringing in, you will be out of money before you know it. The bonus of looking at your old bills is to see if you are spending too much money, and if you are then you can cut back. It’s always good to see where you’re money is going. If you don’t like what you see, you can change how you spend. Also, you can figure out a percentage of your money to save for later.

Set A Goal For Your Money

Now that you know how much money you have and how much money you are spending, you know how much money you have left. This could be spent on going out to dinner or for a more ambitious goal like buying a car or going on a trip. Plus, it never hurts to have an amount set aside in case of an emergency. 

This will keep you out of trouble with overspending and ending up in debt. More importantly, you will know how much you can spend having fun. Once you have a budget, you don’t have to worry about it and you just adjust with the big changes in your life.

Image: Sumall

CultureEducationSkillsTravel

Welcome to week two of Carpe’s “Travel Series.” This week, I share my best tips on how to travel on a budget. Having just returned from a semester in Denmark, I had the opportunity to take several trips and learn some important lessons on how to cut down costs while on the road.

TRAVELING ON A BUDGET

1. Create a budget. Before you buy tickets, book accommodations, or reserve tickets, consider how much money you will also need for food, transportation, and purchasing appropriate clothing if you do not already own it. Take in all of these factors and shape your budget around what matters most to you. If you care about staying in a hotel that is centrally located, you might need to spend less on dining out or on event or sightseeing tickets. If you care more about excursions, plan your budget around those activities. Create a simple budget spreadsheet and email it to yourself or print out a small version for easy travel access!

2. Stick to your budget! It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of being somewhere new, but if you are careless about your spending then the end of the trip will feel more like a headache than a vacation. Keep a small notepad or note in your phone documenting how much money you spend each day so you can calculate how much you have per day going forward.

3. Consider a hostel. Hostels can be a great option for cutting costs, especially if you are traveling in a group. The key element to traveling safely while staying in hostels is to check the ratings from previous guests, and to make sure that there are lockers with locks that you can rent to store your valuables. This option also works well if you are traveling with a group of 5-10 people, as most hostels have community rooms that are filled on a guest-to-guest basis. And remember to bring shower shoes, as bathrooms are often co-ed and shared by an entire floor.

4. Split with a friend. You learned it when you were young, and you’re about to hear it again: sharing is caring! Splitting meals and accommodations is great way to cut down on cost. Also consider coordinating outfits so that you can both bring half the amount of clothes and share along the way. Agree specifically on what you are willing to share before you leave for the trip or you might find yourself in an awkward position, whether it be not wanting to lend a favorite sweater or not being able to wear a pair of shoes you were counting on wearing. Talking beforehand clears up most of these problems and helps you pack more appropriately.

5. Bring a water bottle. Rather than continually buying bottles of water, bring along your own durable water bottle that you can fill with safe/clean tap water. This trick not only saves you money but helps you help the environment! Remember: you are not allowed to have any liquid in the container while going through security at the airport.

6. Use Space Saver Bags for clothing. Tip: Avoid “vacuum-seal” brands. Using space saver bags allows you to bring more variety of clothing, meaning you are less likely to splurge on an essential item you forgot to pack because you didn’t have space. I love these bags because I can fit more into a smaller space, bring a smaller bag, and travel more simply and conveniently. I’m not as worried about whether or not I will be able to fit my bags into the overhead if I’m taking a train, and having less stuff to keep an eye on means that there there’s more time for fun and less time for stress!

 How do you travel on a budget? We’d love to hear your tips!

P.S. How to stay safe when traveling.