We’ve all been there, money goes in and out every two weeks and it feels impossible to break the cycle of living from one paycheck to the next. But with careful and strategic planning and handling of your finances, it is possible. Coming up with a well thought out and documented plan will help you move away from running out of money every month and toward living on a comfortable budget where you’re saving a down payment. The sooner you start to institute these tips into your lifestyle, the sooner you’ll be saying: Hello new home!
1. Get a handle on your finances: This means write out a budget! If you’re not crunching the numbers, it’s that much easier to over spend. Founder of the savings website MoneySavingMom.com, Crystal Paine, offered this insight, “Don’t start trying to earn more money until you start telling all the money you already have where to go.”
In some cases, a family might not even need to earn more money to wipe out a perceived deficit. It may very well be they have enough money coming in to cover their monthly expenses, but they’re spending it unwisely. “Sometimes it’s not a money problem, it’s a self discipline problem,” Paine said.
2. Reduce spending: So you’ve done the first part. You’ve written out your budget and you’re looking at everything you have to work with. If what you’re seeing is there’s not enough there to make a difference in the finances of your day-to-day, then you have to start cutting spending from your budget.
There are a few ways to do this, but here are some easy approaches you might start with:
-Pack your lunch
-Eat in on nights and weekends
-Turn down the thermostat three to four degrees in the winter
-Combine your errands to save gas
-Eat food at home and start eating less meat — often times it’s the most expensive food you buy at the grocery store
3. Find a way to supplement your income: There are quite a few ways to do this and obviously depending on what your needs are, the solution will vary. Ideas for generating extra income are a little trickier than the cost-cutting options, but pair the two together and you’re on your way to saving up for that new home.
Ideas for increasing income:
-Get a second job, maybe it’s nights or weekends and just a few afternoons a week
-Apply for a promotion or ask for a raise: if the timing is right, it might pay to ask
-Have a garage sale or sell old items on craigslist
-Sell original creations on Etsy, whether it’s handmade baby clothes, knitted scarfs, hand-wrapped jewelry or vintage clothing if you’re the crafty type, this might be the perfect option for you
4. Last, but not least keep your goal alive in your mind: Saving up for a down payment isn’t going to happen over night. Rather, it’s going to be the product of lots of small strategic decisions applied everyday. By keeping your goal alive and visualizing it coming into your future, you’ll remember why your taking extra precautions when times get rough.