10 Ways to Get Ahead on Your Monthly Finances

Wanting to save money, but don’t know where to start? Check out these 10 ways to get ahead on your monthly finances!

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Guest Post Written By: Wendi Iacobello

save-now-cover Getting ahead on your monthly finances takes work. Making small changes now can vastly increase your savings each month. It takes discipline to stick to a strict regimen and make saving money a priority. Below are a few strategies to help increase your savings each month in three key areas.

Electricity

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1-Lights-Change your light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs. Then, only use lights in the room in which you are sitting. During the day time, open up your blinds or curtains and let in fresh light instead of using electricity. To learn more about the cost savings of energy efficient bulbs, click here.
2-Appliances-Change the way you do laundry to save money. Washing clothes in cold water is cost saving. Make sure your laundry and dishwasher loads are full. Lastly, run your appliances during the early morning or late evening hours when energy costs are lower.

Food

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3-Lunch-Food is a huge expense. Packing your lunch can save up to fifty dollars a week, plus you can eat healthier.
4-Dinner-Plan your family’s meals for the week utilizing similar ingredients so you are not wasteful. For example: If I know I am cooking a large meal on Sundays, I make sure that Monday night’s meal plan will incorporate leftovers plus adding in one extra vegetable that can be cooked easily on Monday night. This not only saves money, but can also save you time from having to cook every night. This can also include using similar ingredients in your recipes so you are using the entire product you bought before it expires.

5-Going out to eat-Going out to eat is costly and can wreak havoc on your budget. Depending on how much money you want to save will depend on whether you should eliminate going out to eat completely, or limit it to only one time per week.
6-Grocery List-Make a grocery list and stick to it. Often times when you are in the grocery store, you begin throwing in extra items that are usually unnecessary. When you stick to a grocery list, you avoid adding extra expenses to your grocery bill. For an added challenge, you can write down and add each item as you place it in your shopping cart to make sure you stay within your weekly grocery budget. While I may look ridiculous, I bring a small dry erase board with me to the grocery store with my grocery list on it, and I can add everything quite easily as I shop on the board.

7-Off brands-Instead of name brand products, look for the best prices on some of the products you typically buy. Off brands taste very similar to the name brands, so be sure to check prices and see where you can make the adjustment to save money.
8-Coupons-Using coupons never goes out of style. Many stores now offer coupons right on the shelves which makes it easier to save, but also entices you to buy certain products that you may not really need. Keep clipping coupons and pay attention to the deals to make sure it’s truly worth the buy.

Travel

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9-Errands-Plan your errands accordingly. When you plan your trips around town and errands accordingly, you not only save on gas money, but you also save more time in your schedule. Time is worth money, so if you can save time you can also save money.
10-Trips-Limit unnecessary travel until it is affordable in your budget. Traveling can become costly and puts a large dent in your budget. Avoiding trips and traveling can save tremendous amounts each month.

What are some things you do to save money on your budget each month? Please share in the comments.

Want to know more about Wendi? Read below.

wendi
Wendi Iacobello is an Army wife. She has a background in special as well as adult education. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Arts in Educational Media. She is a blogger, workshop presenter, and advisor to military spouses seeking career and education assistance. In her free time, you can usually find her in the outdoors somewhere gardening, running, or playing with her Beagle puppy. Wendi is extremely passionate about helping others by sharing her experiences, insight, resources, and inspirational stories on her blog Strength 4 Spouses.

Invest in your future, you will survive today!

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Today, take time to think about what you are spending money on. Do you buy things outside of  paying your bills? You may be surprised to find out  how much extra money you actually have.

When you are struggling to make ends meet, buying a $5 dollar Starbucks, a pack of cigarettes, or a bottle of wine can possibly add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year and quite possibly be the reason why you are struggling to begin with, think about it.🤔

Make a short-term goal to eliminate this thing or activity that is costing you the little bit of extra money you may have. If you get your nails done once every two weeks, try for one month to save that money and put it away. In only a short time, you’ll realize that you actually have extra money that you can save, it’s a matter of, if you really want to.

Go on a money diet. Make a goal of a few weeks or a month. Eliminate everything extra that you spend money on that is not a necessity. This is a great challenge, even for myself, but doing this on the regular basis will help you build up to saving for a larger financial goal.

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Track your money,  become aware of what you actually to spend. You can do this! It just takes a little bit of time and discipline.

Emotional Stress & Spending Habits🤑😫

Emotional stress can negatively contribute to the way you spend and budget money. When I am stressed, I tend to buy fast food everyday. This is definitely not a good financial habit. Is there anything you impulsively spend money on when you’re stressed?

Below is a link with a few tips on how to reduce stress.

http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/blissing-out-10-relaxation-techniques-reduce-stress-spot

A few things you can do when you’re stressing to avoid impulsively spending money, take the money that you want to spend and put it into a savings or a money bucket. You can also go to the grocery store and purchase staple items for your home that you will eventually need. I do this sometime when I really just want to spend some money and you always need groceries right? At least that’s my way of justifying it. LOL😉

The biggest advice I can give about impulsively spending when you’re stressed is to get to the root of the problem. Find out why you are stressing and why that stress makes you want to spend money.  There are many reasons that people stress; family problems, physical health issues, mental health issues, boredom, etc.

Take time to get to know yourself. Know what you like, what you don’t like, and what you are or aren’t willing to accept in your life. Doing this what help you recognize the issue and find a solution to your stress.

Rest easy,  trouble don’t last always📿

Saving up & Eating out

Eating out is my biggest weakness when it comes to saving money.   I eat out a few times a week.  Do you eat out? If so, how often?  Eating out is considered impulse spending when it is not planned. It may also put a damper on your savings. In this article, I will let you in on some of my money-saving secrets while eating out.

Reward cards are the best thing since the invention of Caller ID, lol.  I have a reward card to almost every fast food chain, grocery store, and coffee shop there is. These cards are normally free. Some offer exceptional deals on their products. Many reward programs also offer free items for a certain amount of items purchased.

Dine in restaurants and fast food restaurants also offer coupons. You can find the coupons online, on the company’s app, and in the restaurant. Sometimes the coupons are free, but places like McDonald’s and KFC offer coupon books starting at $1. These books are totally worth it! They contain high value coupons and coupons for free items as well.

When my family eats fast food, I try my best to keep the total around $20, but this can be hard with a family of five. Here are a few things I do to achieve my budget goals; I do not order combo meals. Often buying a combo meal is more costly than buying the items separately. I will order sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and fries from the value menu and one cup of water for each person, if we are traveling.  If are going home, we do not need any drinks with our meal.

There is nothing wrong with indulging every now and then. Setting limits and planning are best when deciding where, how often, and how much to spend when you eat out!