As the holidays approach, many consumers find that their wallets and budgets have been stretched to their limits.
It may seem impossible to find any wiggle room, as most of your budget expenses like rent and utilities are fixed expenses.
While it may seem like a daunting task to get your budget stretched, it can be done with the right resources! Stretching out your budget can be just a matter of being mindful of your finances and adjusting your means that are available.
Creating a New Budget Plan
When creating your new budget plan, establishing your current expenses and anticipated expenses can be helpful. These expenses can be sorted into two different groups:
- Fixed Expenses: These are the expenses that do not change month to month. These can be bills like mortgage payments, car payments, and other debts.
- Variable Expenses: These expenses are factors that change from month to month. Expenses like these are usually gas, entertainment, and takeout. Usually, when planning a budget, these are the expenses that could be adjusted to stretch your budget.
Track Your Budget
After establishing your fixed and variable expenses, tracking your budget is the next step to finding financial relief. Take a look at your bank statement from the past month, and track where you have been putting your funds throughout the month. Create a spreadsheet and place the transactions in the right category.
This can be done using Excel, where you can custom a spreadsheet right through your phone! In your spreadsheet, separate the expenses from fixed to variable. This can be where you find the unnecessary expenditures, and adjust them accordingly to make your budget stretch more the next month.
In order for you to create a successful budget plan, your expenses should not surpass your income throughout the month. If you find yourself in over your head even after cutting out expenses like entertainment and takeout food, it might be time to look for additional loan solutions to get you through the holiday spending.
Through the tracking of your monthly expenses, you can diagnose where you might have fallen short financially and try adjusting the variable expenses. If you find that your paychecks are being dedicated to far too much Panda Express or clothes shopping, it might be time to cut back during the holiday season.
Helpful Tricks for Stretching your Budget
When it comes to fixing your budget, it can be easier said than done if you are trying to do it on your own. However, there are lots of helpful tricks when it comes to saving money, and getting more funds if you need it!
- Get a Part-time Job- If you have weekends or weeknights free, one of the ways you can earn some extra cash is by getting a part-time job. Bartending and restaurant jobs can be more profitable for the weekends and allow for additional schedules, which can be your best bet if you are good with people. Another option is to drive for ridesharing apps, which can help you set your own hours and schedule when you have time to work.
- Sell Old Clothes or Household Items-If you have clothes just sitting in your closet, or if you have furniture not being used, selling them on offer up or other used item sites can be a way to earn extra funding.
- Get A Loan to Cover Costs- Opting for a loan can be an additional way to make a budget stretch. Click here for more information.
- Cut Your Spending- If you aren’t bringing your lunch to work already, you need to start! Most Americans spend an average of $20 per week eating out for lunch, which adds up quickly to $1,043 per year!
- Stretch Your Meals- Your meals can also be a way to stretch your budget. Opt for eating less meat, as it can be more expensive. Stock up on low-cost staples, and make use of your leftovers!
- Cut out Entertainment– When you’re looking to save money, one of the easiest ways to do so is by cutting out entertainment like cable. If you have Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu streaming it may not even be necessary to have cable.
- Cancel your Subscriptions– You may be paying for more subscriptions than you might think. Another trick to save money is to cancel the extra subscriptions you have. They can add up quickly, and contribute to your budget being thinner than you might like.
- Manage your Utilities– If you have a particularly high electric bill or want to save on cooling costs, turning off your air and using a fan can be helpful. Additionally, turning the heat down a few degrees and layering up can save a ton on heating bills!
- Unplug– Some kitchen appliances can be leeches when it comes to your electricity. Check out for plugged-in toasters and light switches that are left on when you’ve left the room.
- Pay on Time– Simply paying your bills on time can help you exponentially. Late payments can lead to high fees and can hurt your credit score, which will cost you more in the long run. One of the ways you can save additional money is by setting up automatic payments every month and factor them into your budget.
- Learn how to Cook from Scratch– Eating processed foods can be where your money is going. Another additional way you can save money is by learning how to cook your own meals.
Be Mindful of your Finances
When it comes to stretching your budget, one of the most important pieces of advice is to be mindful of your finances. Every time you make a purchase, be mindful of how it can affect your budget. Taking coffee from home rather than stopping at Starbucks in the morning can give you an additional $25 a week to spend on other bills! Stretching your budget is all about monitoring your finances, and finding new ways to become fiscally responsible with tricks you may not have known about before!