How to spot the leaks in your budget and clear them
Article by staff writer Alison and may include affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
I asked my husband what he thinks our weakness is when it comes to our budget. Guess what he said? “Takeaway and alcohol!” While I hate to admit it, I agree! It is so easy to be exhausted and order takeaway, especially with apps like Ubereats (get $10 off with the code eats-kyliet591ue). Wine and beer is so common after work or whenever we have dinner with friends.
“Are you willing to give you takeaway and alcohol for one year to save money?” I asked him.
“No! Absolutely not. NO WAY!” I think that is a fairly definite response!
Everything has a price
So I start asking him, “Would you give them up for an overseas holiday? Or an integrated beer keg?” The keg is his dream! Note to self, never ask a man anything like this while he is watching football. It’s sure to make him cranky and not get the answers you want!
The concept of saving and sacrifice is something I am familiar with. When your budget is tight, it’s unlikely you’re going to splurge on a luxury item like fancy designer boots, a weekend mini-break with room service or an integrated beer keg system. Who can justify things like that when you’re struggling to pay a mortgage/rent, buy groceries and clothe the family.
The only way I can justify buying my dream item is to specifically set it as a goal. Then I need to either work harder to earn extra money for it, sell things for it, or save for it. However, when you feel like there is nothing left to put aside, what do you do?
Get visual with your motivation
Put together a scrapbook, folder or poster with a collage of photos, ideas and notes of your dream item. If it’s something as simple as a pair of boots, then simply post photos of your dream boots in your wardrobe, on the fridge, on your desk at work. These photos and scrapbooks are to serve as reminders and inspiration to stick with your plan. Check out this motivation wall for inspiration.
Create a plan
Work out how you’re going to achieve your dream. How can you earn extra money? Do you have items you can sell? Check out how to make over $10,000 in a month reselling things. Maybe you will simply work it into your budget and save. Whatever it is, make sure you are planning to pay cash instead of going into debt. Don’t fall into the trap of borrowing or loaning money for a non-essential luxury item.
How to make extra money
For some ideas to make extra money you might want to check out these 43 ideas. Look at reselling things, freelance writing, blogging, becoming a virtual assistant or try any of these 51 ways to make money from home.
What would you give up?
To achieve something I never thought I’d have I could give up takeaway and alcohol. Not easily, but I could do it. Not so sure my husband can! I’m very addicted to my weekly treats, but I could certainly be persuaded to give them up for a one-off luxury that I wouldn’t even dream of getting normally. Particularly when I do a chart (like the one below) and work out how much money I could have after just one year.
How much do you spend on your treats?
Let’s see how much money you could potentially save, here are some examples. Maybe you could save even more!
Per Week / Per Person
** when doing your calculation – remember to calculate how much you spend per couple, or per family
$1000 may not seem a lot of money to put aside to give up your favourite treat. (Check out 10 ways to make $1,000 this month!) But just think how proud you’ll feel when you can buy that one luxury item you never thought you’d own after just one year!
Track your savings
Having visual reminders of your goals is great, but you also need to track it to make sure you will achieve it. Get a graph you can colour in and have a high interest saving account to transfer the money to as you make and save it. You’ll get a kick out of seeing how close you are to your goal every time you look at it.
Accept you won’t be perfect
If you fall by the wayside and have a terrible month with your savings, don’t stress! We all have moments where we fail or it becomes too hard. The most important thing is to acknowledge it, then get back on track. Don’t quit!
Spend and enjoy!
Before you know it, twelve months have flown by and you have cash to flash! Congratulate yourself, spend up and enjoy the thrill of having achieved your goal. Then you can sit down and work out whether you want to go back to your old habits, or whether you want to go through the exercise again and enjoy another treat the following year!
What is your weakness and what is it worth to you?
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Written by Alison