More and more Canadians report living paycheck to paycheck, and most of them said they were one paycheck away from losing it all. With so many people talking about how tight their finances are, is there anything you can do to save money while living on a budget?
This word scared many people. I know there was a time when I said, “how do I budget when I know I don’t have enough money to cover the bills?” It can be very intimidating, but no matter the circumstances, you need to set a budget. This will help you understand where your money is going. One of the best tips I received was to sit down and enter your spending each day by hand or enter it on a spreadsheet. When you have to write it, you have to take ownership of your spend. There are some great budget apps (when you’re ready) like Mint. With every budget, there must be built-in savings and expenses.
Pay yourself first
For many people this seems like a strange concept, but it will help. When you complete your budget, one of the items should be spending. Every budget will be different, it could be a percentage or a fixed amount. Eventually most of us will spend money on something, be it a coffee with a friend or some form of pleasure. If this is not budgeted for, it will have to come from somewhere unexpectedly. If you know how much you can spend, you can buy your own coffee and not ruin your budget or feel guilty. Spending on yourself doesn’t have to be generous. The little things matter and help you feel that you are not only working to pay the bills but also enjoying life.
Set up automatic payments
I used to joke that I didn’t have paydays, I had payroll days! My money went in and then it went out. This was set up so there would be no second thoughts. There was the option to move some, but when the money wasn’t seen before it went into the bill, I didn’t feel like spending it or flaunting it. There may be additional savings offered by companies when you sign up for automatic payments.
One of the first things to do is not compulsive window shopping. If you’re going to a store or mall, go with a purpose. Stores and malls use targeted marketing to make people want products and without a purpose, you’re more likely to walk into a store and make a purchase. Remember that even though it’s a 25% off sale, you’re still paying 75 more than you budgeted if you pick up an impulse item.
Use this same tactic when you go grocery shopping: Go with a list. If it’s not listed, it’s not in your cart.
When you go to the store, be sure to eat before you go. It has been proven that if you go shopping hungry, you make bad choices.
Financial struggles are real and can cause major problems in relationships, cause depression and lead to isolation. There are many emotions when grappling with financial worries. There is help out there; put your pride aside and seek help. Bromwhich and Smith is a great resource for debt relief and financial support. Erin Skye Kelly has a show called Get the Hell Out of Debt. This is a fantastic program for anyone who really wants to get help (if you go to the website there is a cost but contact us to discuss as there is help available). If things go wrong and you need immediate help, contact Alberta Income Support.
This story was brought to you by Great West Media Content Studio. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial team.