When you have to worry about paying rent, groceries, utilities, and any number of other monthly expenses, it can hard enough to come up with the money to cover the month let alone anything beyond that. This is a reality that plenty of people have to confront, with 40% of Americans unable to cover a $400 emergency expense.
But imagine if you already had all of the money to cover your monthly expenses before the month even started? You’d be able to start putting money aside for your emergency fund, your retirement, or your child’s college fund.
While it won’t be easy, here are seven things you can do that may help this dream become a reality.
Calculate your monthly expenses
You’ll need to start by having a thorough understanding of what you spend your money on. Take a good look at your budget and keep a close eye on your monthly expenses. If you don’t have a budget, take a look at our Ultimate Budgeting Guide to learn more about some budgeting techniques that may work for you. You might also want to check out these free personal finance apps to help you budget and manage your finances.
When you’re trying to figure out how much you can spend for the coming month, you need to be realistic. When you’re buying an extra lunch here and maybe a small shopping trip there, it’s easy to spend more than you’ve budgeted for without even realizing it. That’s why it’s so important to go through your budget at the end of the month and track how much you’ve actually spent and what you’ve been spending your money on. When you have a realistic idea of how much money you’ll need for the month after reviewing last month’s expenses, you should have a much better idea of how much you can spend in order to start saving for the next month.
Need some help cutting down on some of your monthly expenses? These money saving tips can help you start to cut back.
Use lump sum payments wisely
Whether your due for a bonus at work or you get a large tax refund, getting a windfall of cash can be exciting. You might be tempted to go treat yourself to that prize item you’ve had your eye on, but there are probably better ways to use this money.
In fact, getting a large lump sum can go a long way in setting you up to get ahead on your monthly expenses for more than just a single month. Let’s say that after you’ve calculated your monthly expenses, you find that you need about $2000 to cover your month. If you get an inheritance of $1400, and manage to shave off a few hundred more with a few well-implemented money saving tips, you’ve nearly gotten one month ahead on your expenses all in one go! If you stay financially responsible and keep up with your budget, this single windfall can get you a month ahead on expenses for the foreseeable future.
Save on vacations
As much as we’d all love to take a nice relaxing vacation every year, they rarely come cheap. With the price of plane tickets, accommodations, and general travel expenses, it might be tough to fit a vacation in your budget if you’re trying to get ahead on your monthly expenses. This is even more true if you’ve got to pay for a trip for the whole family.
This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some time off. If you’ve already been saving up for a vacation, you may still be able to put some of this money towards a trip and cut back on some travel expenses depending on how much you’ve saved. Try implementing some budget travel tips, or if you want to avoid plane tickets altogether, consider taking a road trip on a budget. Take all of the remaining money you’ve saved from cutting back on travel and put it aside for your next month’s expenses.
Save on your food budget
Coming up with a week’s worth of meals can be tricky for anyone, especially when you’re on a tight budget. It can be even harder when you don’t walk into the grocery store with a list. Start by planning out your meals and what ingredients you’ll need, and try not to stray from your list. Keep this in mind and challenge yourself to cut back on groceries this month.
Another helpful tip is to make sure you’re not buying groceries when you already have a freezer and pantry full of food you’ve been ignoring. It’s normal to leave something in the depths of your freezer and completely forget it’s there, so make sure you do your best to eat through your freezer and pantry before you run out to stock your cupboards.
Cut back on subscriptions
Between cable, streaming services, gym memberships and more, it’s easy for your monthly subscriptions to start piling up without you even realizing it. If you’re looking to get ahead on your monthly expenses, it’s time to start cutting some of these services out and start to find some cheaper alternatives. Here are some areas you may want to look at:
Tossing on the TV and vegging out on the couch can be a great way to relax and shut your brain off after a long day at work, but fitting a traditional cable subscription into a tight budget might be an expense you can do without. With the number of streaming platforms and cheap cable alternatives out there, there’s a good chance you may be able to find a way of getting your TV fix without over-stretching your budget.
While it might be nice to have the amenities of a gym at your fingertips, a gym membership rarely comes cheap. But going to the gym five times a week isn’t the only way to stay in shape. Whether you put together a home workout plan, start eating better, or start using free fitness apps to help you with your workouts, cancelling your gym membership can go a long way in helping you cut back on your monthly expenses.
Pick up a side hustle
Getting a month ahead on your expenses doesn’t need to only involve cutting things from your budget. Finding ways to earn a little extra income can also go a long way in helping you to save on your monthly expenses. This might just involve picking up a few extra hours a week at work, but you might also want to look into a side hustle to help boost your income. Here are few ideas:
- Freelancing – If you’ve got a set of marketable skills that are in demand, try selling your services online through freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr.
- Sell your unused junk – One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. If you’ve got a bunch of unused items lying around the house, it might be time to start selling them off on Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist. Make a list of all of the items you want to get rid of, do some research to figure out what their going rate is, write detailed descriptions and take pictures, and get to selling!
- Focus groups – Focus groups are a great way to get a little extra money by donating a bit of your time and your insights.
Try out these tips to help you get ahead on your monthly expenses
Keeping up with your monthly expenses can be hard as it is, but getting a month ahead on them may feel downright impossible. But if you put together a thorough budget, keep track of your spending, and implement some of our money saving tips, you may start to see your expenses go down and your savings go up!
Do you have any tips for getting ahead on your monthly expenses? Share below!
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