General Question

IzzyAndHerBeans's avatar

How can I live on a budget?

Asked by IzzyAndHerBeans (357points) January 29th, 2012

I’d like to learn how to budget my money and make smart choices when it comes to dealing with my money. I hear there are ways to stay on a budget but still eat how you’d like, wear what you want and live in a nice area. Suggestions? Do places like Groupon help?

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14 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

You have to first start with what your income is…per week or per month.

That is the given.

Then you deduct your obligate expenses…rent/mortgage, food, gas, taxes, utilities, health insurance, telephone, telecommunications, car payments (perhaps some savings).

Whatever is left is your discretionary income. That means you can spend it on what you want.

Most of us can’t buy everything we think we cravet, need or can’t live without.

One pair of Jimmy Choo’s, or six dinners at a restaurant? You choose.

john65pennington's avatar

Each person is different, because of different financial situations.

Living on a tight budget may mean very little entertainment for you. This is the area that most people have trouble. Not paying a bill, so you can eat pizza and go to a movie or the mall.

Keep a journal of your bills and how much you can spend on entertainment and stick with it.

I have used a journal for many years and its been a tremendous help.

I will explain more, if you are interested. jp

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

One of the best ideas I ever heard about saving money: After you get a job, you learn to live on what’s in the bank. You’ll spend whatever is there. When you get a raise, put the amount of the raise into savings. Don’t put it in the bank and spend it.

gailcalled's avatar

edit: crave.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Determine how much money you make after taxes & deductions then divide that money between the days of each month. Print out a monthly calendar to write in the amounts of bills due and what dates they’re due. In the calendar margins, write two columns, one for things you’d like and their costs, the other column to write in how much leftover-after-bills money you have along with extra money from overtime, extra shifts or whatever.

The best spot to get in is when you can start putting money aside for the next month’s bills before the end of your current month. When you see chunks of money like that, stress and pressure turn into excitement to make more of a security buffer/emergency fund or nest egg.

jaytkay's avatar

re: Groupon

Sometimes we spend many dollars to save a few pennies.

Groupon helps if you only use offers which reduce current spending. But mostly, the daily emails from Groupon encourage you to spend in new areas.

Groupon is a local company for me, I wish them all the success in the world. But as a thrifty consumer, I have to be extremely picky when accepting their offers.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Do you have roomies or live with family? If so, are they open to splitting the costs and sharing a password things like Netflix, Xbox, Hulu, internet?

Do you have a job that allows for overtime or extra shifts? If yes then put in the extra on days you already work rather than days off so you can save on gas while pocketing the maximum of your extra effort.

I ask because in our house there are three adults and we share those things. In fact, all of us can be watching something totally different on our devices via one Netflix account which saves us a TON.

jazmina88's avatar

If you want to save, you cant live like a queen. You have to make good choices, if you want to save money. No big shopping sprees, not going out to eat every day.

Groupon will not save you money, you will spend more. On stuff you dont need. Go into survival mode. Look for the lowest gas prices.

Do not go into debt.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Do you have specific brands of clothing you know work well for you? If yes then scour ebay daily. Make a rule with yourself to spend no more than X amount for each item.

Are you able to be a minimilast eater most days in order to indulge your cravings on a weekend day? Mark in a restaurant one day each weekend on your calendar, highlight and put amount of money you need for it. Eat during the week around that goal.

john65pennington's avatar

The fact that you want to make smart choices, tells me that you have a head full of common sense and that is great.

When you get married, YOU do the bills, NOT your husband. Your money will go farther this way.

JilltheTooth's avatar

You can have lavish evenings with friends…at somebody’s house. When I was in my early 20s a group of us would rotate extravagant pot lucks from house to house. The food was luxurious, but because we prepared it ourselves, cost about as much as all of us going to McDonalds. We brought and drank our own booze. If the point was being out with friends, we did it very cheaply. We shopped at consignment stores and shared out our nice clothing. We had a blast.

marinelife's avatar

You have to first track your expenditures before you can make an intelligent budget. See where you can cut back.

YARNLADY's avatar

First you have to learn that still eat how you’d like, wear what you want and live in a nice area is only possible if you adjust your expectations. You have to compensate somewhere, and the best place is moderation.

Don’t expect steak everynight, but put an occasional splurge into the budget.

Buy clothes only on sale, and buy wise, not necessarily expensive. Many charities carry brand new designer clothing stores donate to get the tax write-off.

Don’t try to live in the most expensive house/apartment on the block, but a cheaper house in a house neighborhood. Don’t expect a house to be a good investment – perhaps renting would be the best plan for now.

JaneraSolomon's avatar

My first rule is to know where every dollar goes. Think before you spend, plan ahead, never ever give in to impulse buying. Buy only things you have a clear immediate need for, never buy something that you think “maybe this will come in handy later.” (Oh, a left handed Monkey Wrench! This might come in handy if I become left handed some day!)
Planning ahead means for instance running all of your errands on one trip, and planning the route for minimum mileage. It also means looking up on Gas Buddy which places have the lowest priced gas on the planned route, and which supermarket along the way has the best sales. It can also pay to get creative and do some networking. I have a friend who had a lovely apartment, the entire third floor of an old house, where the first two floors were a law office. It turned out the lawyers wanted someone in the building just to help keep an eye on the building after hours. They didn’t really need the rent money; they charged him only a nominal rent of $50/month. Living well on a budget is certainly possible, but it takes some work. You can make a great loaf of bread for 50 cents, or buy a similar loaf for $5.

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