Sunday, May 3, 2015

5 Smart Ways to Make the Most of Your Money

After making some not-so-brilliant purchases last month, I remembered just how important budgeting is. I ended up with $25 to last me until my next payday some 10 days later. Yikes! It’s been a tough week so far, and I still have to make it to Wednesday with only $7.50 in the bank. Double yikes! To prevent this little mishap from occurring again, smart budgeting is a must. The simplest formula I can think of is Monthly Salary – Bills = Spending Money. In my case, “bills” means my evil student loans, my credit card, and my monthly train ticket into New York City. There are certainly ways to stretch that money, so here are 5 tips to keep in mind so you avoid my current situation!
  1. Bring lunch. The month I made it my goal to bring lunch to work instead of eating out, I saved myself $50 a week. Throwing together a salad or putting leftovers in a container costs little compared to the $10 lunches I’d be buying. Not to mention, home-prepared food is usually the healthier route.
  2. Set goals.  I’m a goal-oriented person, so I find that it’s much easier for me to stay within a budget or save money if I make a goal for myself. I might decide that I want to have $100 left in my account at the end of a particular month, so that makes me more mindful of my spending. Even if I fall a bit short of the goal, I’d still be well within my budget.
  3. Plan ahead.  At the start of the month, I always try to plan out my expenses. There are the expenses that never go away (my bills), but there are always other things that crop up. I try to figure one-time expenses like doctor co-pays, excursions, or major purchases (laptops, furniture, etc.) into my Monthly Salary – Bills = Spending Money equation as best I can. Also, I try to avoid scheduling too many of these one-time expenses in a single month, spreading everything out as evenly as possible.
  4. Look for sales & bargains.  This is one of the best ways to stretch a dollar. I love finding sales and think of it as a sport (it totally is if you’re a shopaholic like me!). I look forward to the seasonal sales (Memorial Day, Labor Day, Black Friday, etc.), but I also get email notifications when my favorite shops have new sales. Add-ons for my internet browser like Shoptager notify me when my wishlist items at online stores go on sale. Nifty right? And although certain stores like DSW, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and HomeGoods might not have sales often, they are great for finding off-price brand name merchandise throughout the year.
  5. Consider your wants versus your needs.  This is the hardest part of budgeting—deciding what's a want and what's a need. It’s great to treat yourself to things when you can, but for me most of my purchases fall under the “need” category. If it’s a “want,” I make sure that my expenses and my “needs” can be paid for first. If there’s enough money left in my monthly budget, then I know I’m good to go!

So what are your tips for saving money?


  1. Really good tips! I'm always running out of money from shopping too much ahah