One of the ways that i determine how much I want to spend on something, or if I am saving money and time is by looking at the amount of time I would have to spend in order to earn what ever it is I want to get. As a freelancer, I have a variety of different projects, and the pay can vary per project, but I work towards a set hourly rate. If a project is easy and will be completed in a short amount of time, the hourly rate may be higher than a more complicated project which looks like it pays more initially.
The same thing applies to the way that you spend your money. One of my biggest downfalls budgeting wise is that we eat out way too much. As my children are getting older, the savings (in time) is not averaging out as the cost goes up. It is beginning to cost me more in work hours than it would take to make dinner. This is actually very motivating to find inexpensive meals to cook at home, because I can see a significant amount of savings each week. Even more if I can convince my husband to start brown bagging his lunches again.
My point with these examples is that you need to weigh the expense of what you want against what you have to work in order to get it. Sometimes the cost (even if it is quite expensive) will be worth the added work hours that you need to put in. Other times you may decide that you would rather spend your time and you money focused on other things.
The next few challenges are designed to help you set effective goals for the next year. When you want to make lasting changes, you need to identify what you want to change, and what you need to change in order to reach your goals. This is such an important step, because you may have the goal to get out of debt--which is identifying what you want to change, but then you need to find the behaviors you need to change to make that happen.
The challenge will take you through identifying what you want to change, and help you identify the areas that you need to change to make it happen. It will not take too long, and is more a self reflection rather than looking at the numbers and coming up with a budget. However, your budget reports from the last two challenges can help you as you complete this one, so you may want to pull them out to look at.
With so much focus on finding the perfect holiday gift, you may push saving money to the side. It is important to regularly set aside money each month for your savings. You can use that money to reach your financial goals like buying a home or going on your dream vacation. Separate from that savings you should always be saving money towards retirement.
Even if you end up not saving anything this month, take the time to think about what your savings goals for the next year are going to be. This can help you to determine just how much you want to save each month. The more aggressive you are in your savings, the more quickly you will reach your goals. Even if you just plan on setting aside some money each month to cover Christmas expenses, you will be better off for the next year.
The thing I remember about my first apartment was the shock I felt when we paid our first electric bill. I shared the apartment with five other girls, and we used a lot of power. Fortunately, six girls meant splitting the bill six ways and we managed, but there are a lot of unexpected costs when you move into your first apartment. And additional costs every time that you move.
It is important that you find a place that gives you a little wiggle room in your budget, so that you can deal with the unexpected costs like rising heating bills in the winter, or the water bill that you did not expect to be that big. Roommates can help defray the costs, but you may be ready for your own place. If you are going to live along, you will need to make sure that you can cover all the costs associated with renting a place on your own before you sign the lease.
It can be tough to think about your budget, especially when you are so focused on getting your holiday shopping done. However, it is months like this when budgeting is even more important. You may be working with two different budgets this month, your monthly budget and your holiday budget. Here are a few tips to help you stick to them this month.
- Track your expenses every night. If you keep you with your different categories on a regular basis, you will know when you need to stop spending.
- Consider switching to cash for your toughest categories. This can help you because even if you forget to track or you are getting close one day, you will know when to stop because you are out of money.
- Look for ways to cut your bills so you have more money to spend on your gifts this year. If you can stop eating out this month, you may be amazed at just how much money you can save.
What strategies are you going to use to stick to your budget this month?
It is the time of year to think about giving to other people. It seems like the holidays are a time when most charities go on drives for donations. I think it is important to give back when and where you can. Find a cause that you really believe in and give what you can afford to it.
If you feel like you do not have any extra money to give right now, you have several different options. One is that you can spend some time volunteering at a local charity. This can be for a few hours over the holidays or you can make it a few hours each month. Another option is to considering donating to some of the local food pantries in your area. You can go through your cupboards to gather the food and drop it off when you are out. You may also consider setting aside money in your monthly budget to give. It does not need to be much, but the donation throughout the year can really add up.
How did your No-Spend November work for you? As I stated in an earlier blog, we had a bit of trouble one week when I got sick. Other than that, we did pretty well over all. We had a previously planned purchase, that we got mid month, but as I stated at the beginning of the challenge, I wasn't going to count that.
If you did a lot of holiday shopping with the Thanksgiving sales, you do not need to count that in your No Spend November, since the challenge was designed to help you prepare for the holiday shopping. I really enjoyed thinking more about not spending money and finding ways to avoid doing it. I think we'll have the challenge again next year and see how it goes.
Please report and tell me how it went.
Today is Black Friday, which means it is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Whether you decided to avoid the crowds and get your shopping done later or you are out fighting through the masses, a day like to day is one when you can really think about your spending habits and your budgeting patterns. It is important to stick to your budget and follow a basic pattern each month, because it can stop you from going into debt each month.
Other than a lack of budgeting there are also deeper spending issues that people deal with. It can be hard if you are a compulsive shopper or if you are struggling because you simply do not make enough to cover your necessities each month. Your budget can help you determine which camp you are in, and then you can begin to take steps to remedy the situation. Have a great shopping day!
This weekend is a great challenge. It lets you see how your spending habits match your financial goals and priorities. If you have financial software, you can easily pull up the reports you need to make these conclusions. It does not take very long to complete the challenge, and it is a good thing to do before you get carried away with holiday shopping over the next few weeks.
If you completed the annual spending by category challenge a few weeks ago, then this challenge will be even easier to complete. Before you begin the challenge pull up these numbers. You should also find the copy of your goals you set at the beginning of the year, or from one of the other goal challenges so that you can begin making the comparisons.
As the end of the year approaches, it is a grew time to really begin thinking about the changes you want to make over the next year. Sometimes you can feel stuck because you do not see yourself moving toward your goals because of a series of unexpected expenses. It may be that your budget is not working, and you are having a difficult time finding extra money to put towards your goal. It can be hard to change what you are doing, but it is possible.
In order to make the changes that you need to get out of your rut, you may need to take some drastic steps. You can consider selling your car and going with a cheaper model, moving somewhere less expensive or finding another way to drastically cut your expenses. You may even consider moving back in with your parents for a short time so that you can really begin to gain traction. Take the time to figure out how to make the changes you need to being working towards your goals today.