It seems more difficult these days to “keep up with the Joneses”. With the prevalence of social media and everyone sharing their highlight reels, it can be easy to get into a funk of feeling like you don’t measure up. We can easily find ourselves in piles of debt if we feel the need to buy more to impress others. However, if you choose to block out the constant posts online and make a plan for yourself and your family, you can find contentment in what you already have and save money. Follow these 5 tips on how to spend less and stay happy.
Create a budget.
Budgeting is the most important thing when it comes to saving money. Having a plan in place will provide clear boundaries for everyone in the home while still allowing room for fun things. A budget brings the challenge of staying within parameters set, but it can be fun to check your self-motivation to keep that budget. Start with the basic, recurring monthly costs such as rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, and insurance. Once those are laid out, figure out what you can pay towards your debt each month (if any). Then, whatever is leftover can be budgeted for fun, eating out, or extracurricular activities.
Pay with cash.
Yes, it can be difficult, but paying with cash forces you to physically feel the amount of money you are spending. For all of the “fun” budget categories, set aside some cash in an envelope to have a visual reminder of where your spending stands. Having cash is also beneficial for grocery shopping so that you can stick to the necessities and don’t grab extra snacks or impulse items.
Take a list to the grocery store.
While on the topic of paying for groceries, making a list ahead of time will make it easier to stick to the budget. You have an idea of the average cost of your basics and can shape the budget around it.
Don’t fret over name brands.
Many affordable companies sell items that look similar to the higher-end designer duds. There are even online bloggers and influencers dedicated to posting their finds from stores such as Wal-Mart and Target. Most clothing and accessories are only on-trend for a short time anyway, so there is no point in overspending on something that will only be in style for a year.
Find free or cheap activities to do.
Having fun doesn’t require spending a ton of money. Not everyone can have a European getaway on a whim! With fall quickly approaching, there are festivals and carnivals galore. Or you can go to a park any time for free! If you like to read, local libraries are still in business and are a great way to immerse yourself in books without purchasing.
There are plenty of ways to save money, but these 5 should get you a head start. Remember to be creative and don’t fear having a budget.