There’s no denying that living on a limited income can be challenging and the temptation to ‘treat yoself’ is often very, very real!
So we’ve put together our 6 favourite tips to make it a little easier for you to plan a realistic budget and make it work for you.
Take a small notebook with you everywhere you go (or use a note-taking or budgeting app on your smartphone like Evernote, Pocketbook or Fudget) and write down EVERY SINGLE TIME you spend money. Include some basic details like time, location, what you bought and where you bought it from. If you like, you can get more detailed with extra info like who you were with and how you were feeling at the time to help identify patterns in your behaviour. Review the list after one month and you’ll see very clearly what your weaknesses are when it comes to spending. For example:
Once you’ve completed the step above, you’ll have a good idea what you usually spend on outings and what you can realistically cut this back to with a little forethought and willpower. For example set yourself a $20 limit for outings and stick to it!
Set yourself an achievable savings goal with a dollar amount and a deadline, and start putting away a small percentage of your income every week, for example 10%. The exact figures will depend on your income, expenses and savings goal.
The best way to do this without having to think about it is to set up an automated ‘direct debit’ payment from the account your pay goes into to a dedicated savings account, as soon as you are paid.
You’ll be surprised at how little you miss that small amount but how quickly it adds up when you check the balance. The beauty of this is that when unexpected expenses pop up, your favourite store is having its annual mega-sale, or when you just need a weekend away, you can dip into those savings guilt-free.
For things like fruit and vegetables, try shopping at your local farmers’ market to score some great deals on fresh produce. Find your closest market here.
Hot tip: do a lap of the market right before the stalls close to nab the best deals! And there’s no shame in scouring the reduced section at your local supermarket; there are some great bargains to be had there.
Many of the essential and not-so-essential items on your shopping list can be found second-hand for a fraction of the price. For example: