Do you feel like you never have a little extra left over in your bank account at the end of the week? Are you tired of always going negative on your budget? Or maybe you wish there was something you could do but you don't have the money for. I completely understand. Every once in a while when my husband and I sit down to look over the budget I wonder where all the money goes. It just seems to disappear!
When I start to feel that way I know it is time to reevaluate the budget and the way we are spending our money. Sure, more money from a larger paycheck would be nice but it is often easier to change our spending habits and budget to get some extra money. If you are wondering how to find some wiggle room in your budget check out these tips.
I recommend starting with a list of all your expenses. If you have a budgeting program you can often just print out all of your monthly and yearly expenses. If you prefer to use pencil and paper for your budget just make a list of all the different expenses you have. I know you see all the expenses month to month, but seeing all of them written down in one long list can be eye opening!
Once you have written down all your expenses see if there are any that you can get rid of. Do you have a gym membership that you can drop? Are there club memberships you can do away with? I finally dropped our newspaper subscriptions about a year ago. It was just a small expense, but all those small ones add up. Make sure that you are using those memberships to the fullest if you are going to pay for them.
Once you have figured out expenses that you can get rid of, see if there are things you can cut back on. Expensive cable bill? Drop cable and try out Hulu or Netflix. You could also switch to a lower cable package with less channels. We recently switched from commercial free Hulu to regular Hulu to save around $50 a year. If you go out to eat twice a week you can cut back to once a week. Try to find some ways to cut back on some of your expenses without getting rid of them completely. Even a few extra dollars a month can really help.
Now take a look at all those expenses you can't drop. See if there are any bills that you could negotiate a lower rate. Internet in our house isn't an extra but a necessary thing. Between my work and my son's school work we pretty much need to have internet service. However, our bill has been going up in the last year. It actually went up $20 9 months ago and another $30 in the last month. We finally called and negotiated a better rate. Our bill went from $110 a month for phone and internet to $55. Just 20 minutes of our time and we will have an extra $55 every month in our budget. Look at your expenses such as the internet, phone, insurance, even credit card rates. All of these things can usually be negotiated to get a lower monthly bill for you. I can usually find an extra $100 in my budget each month just by negotiating lower rates with companies.
If you have some companies that won't work with you on lower rates I recommend shopping around. Homeowners and car insurance are great expenses to try shopping around on. It's easy enough to call a couple of other insurance companies or just get a quote online. Spending an hour or two getting quotes can save you $100's a year. You can do the same thing with internet, phone, and cable if they won't lower your rates.
Some expenses like groceries & gas you can't negotiate or get rid of. For those reoccurring expenses like gas or groceries, I recommend the envelope system. It's an easy way to make sure you aren't spending more than you should be. Figure out what your budget should in each category and then try it out for a couple of weeks. It has completely changed how we handle our money. You can see all the details of our envelope system here. It's a great system because you can't overspend and it makes you very aware of how much you are spending on things.
With these easy steps, you can easily find some wiggle room in your budget. More wiggle room in your budget means more money to save for that vacation, pay off debt or just do the things you love! What tips do you have for extra wiggle room in your budget?