Getting Back to the Basics

I started writing my blog one year ago to help people like me manage their budget. I was a recent college graduate with large student loan bills quickly stacking up. Now more than ever, I’m worried that I’m not doing enough.

As a new young professional, I’m just starting to gain a foothold in the real world. Now that I have about two years of work experience under my belt (at an accounting and financial magazine nonetheless), I still hope to reach people looking to manage their budget and spend their money in a smarter way.

For instance, instead of going out to dinner or ordering take-out food a few times per week, opt for a weekly grocery shopping trip to make lunch and/or dinner every day. Pinterest has some easy recipes for you on-the-go professionals. For me, I live off of peanut butter sandwiches and dinner leftovers (thanks, Mom).

My first-ever post was about cheap nail polish. For me, painting my nails is a part of my weekly ritual, but that might not be said for everyone. Someone looking to save money isn’t worried about nail polish or beauty products. That’s one less monthly bill they have to worry about. With that said, let’s get back to the main reason why I started a blog and talk about how you can cut down your budget.

The Essentials

Monthly expenses should include: rent/utilities, car payment, car insurance, a credit card (singular), and health/medical insurance. Personally, I only use my credit card for gas (I get rewards), otherwise I use my debit card for everything. It’s easy to lose track of more than one credit card, so keep it simple.

I want to point out something that everyone might not know: If you have a loan or credit card, you don’t have to pay the minimum payment. The more money you pay at one time, the less you’ll end up paying (less interest) and the better your credit score will be.

Lets say your credit card minimum payment is $30, but you racked up $300 on that card this month. Instead of paying $30 for 10 months and accruing interest, which sometimes can double your original balance, pay $100 at a time to cut down on the interest. The same thing goes for student loans. I pay as much as I can per month to cut down on the interest (which has already doubled my original loan amount).

Other than those few monthly bills, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Here are a few more tips on how to trim the fat from your budget:

  1. You don’t need those concert tickets. This took my boyfriend a while to accept. I know the band is only going to be in town for the one night, but if you’re spreading yourself too thin, you can live without spending $70 per ticket (and the gas spent to drive to the show).
  2. Cut out your pit stop at the mall. I know the mall is a refuge of sorts, but it’s a dangerous place to be when you’re on a budget. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Miss Scrooge over here, telling you not to spend your money on things. I’m only suggesting cutting the shopping trip from $100 to $50 and thinking about your purchases instead of impulse shopping.
  3. Stop your monthly subscriptions. Guilty as charged. I still have one or two floating around, but for the most part, I canceled my magazine subscriptions and most of my beauty box subscriptions, which allow me to skip months anyway. I eliminated at least $100 a month!
  4. Only download free apps. If you frequently download apps, make sure they are free or have a one-time charge. My boyfriend downloaded a radio app once that charged us $9.99 per month (a subscription fee), even after he deleted the app! I had to call my carrier to get it sorted out.
  5. If it ain’t broke, don’t buy a new one. My mother instilled in me this age-old adage at a young age. Plus, if you value your items and don’t take them for granted, you keep them unbroken a lot longer.
    Quick vignette: My boyfriend thought his computer crashed, so we went to the store to look for another one, saw the one he wanted was more than $600, and then walked out. We eventually cleared the RAM memory on his hard drive, and it worked as good as new. If we didn’t decide to fix it on our own, he would have spent $600 needlessly.

 Another way to save some money is to research “life hacks,” which are cheap and innovative ways to make your life simpler without spending a lot of money. (Follow it on Twitter for more details: @LifeHacks.) But that’s a topic for another post.

Feel free to ask any questions or start a conversation below. Thanks for reading and sharing my one-year anniversary with me!

Related Articles

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Tax Break: The TurboTax Blog — “Don’t Let Your Budget Bite Back: How to Create Your First One (and How to Stick to It)”



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