Regardless of what your job is and how much money you make, chances are you’re going to want more.
This is true for most people around the world so everyone is constantly looking for ways to increase their budget and save more money.
This is easier said than done for many of us, so if you’re thinking of doing something yourself, here are a few useful budget hacks that will help you improve your budget and make your life easier.
Plan your expenses
As with anything in life, managing a budget is all about good planning. Starting from your monthly food bill to buying gas and updating your sportswear – the better you plan, the higher your chances of success are.
There will certainly be a few snags along the way, and you might also experience some backlash with unexpected expenses, but don’t let that push you off track. Simply mark them down and be aware of them in future.
Start planning with short periods especially if you’re a beginner. For instance, adhering to a weekly budget is easier than to a monthly one.
Take some time at the end of each week to reflect on how the week went and to plan next week’s necessary expenses.
Put it all in writing or use an app for budget planning. In addition to the basic expenses, leave something for the unexpected. In that way, you won’t feel bad when you indulge in an extra meal out.
Track your budget
As mentioned above, a practical budgeting app on your smartphone can make your budget planning much easier. It’ll help you keep track of your real-time spending anytime, anywhere. Most budgeting apps can be synced with your computer or one more person, so your spouse can also be in on it and help you keep track.
These apps give you quick access to information on how much money is left in each category, which is great in helping you not overspend.
Maximize your tax refund
While this doesn’t apply to everyone, the vast majority of taxpayers will receive a tax refund this year. With that being said, it is probably safe to assume that you want the biggest refund possible, right?
With the Coronavirus pandemic still fresh in our minds, it is important to remember every single tax benefit and rebate you received because of it.
There are also many lesser-known deductions and other tax incentives that you can take advantage of depending on your circumstances. These include:
- Retirement contributions such as a 401k, IRA, Roth IRA, and other defined contribution plan.
- Investment expenses such as brokerage and investment advisory fees.
- If you’re supporting any children, relatives, or even friends, make sure you properly claim them.
- If you missed any stimulus payments, make sure to claim the recovery rebate.
- Charitable contributions can be tax-deductible under certain circumstances.
Remember, if you’re able to itemize deductions then do NOT claim the standard deduction.
Last but not least, many tax filing platforms will let you file your tax refund for free so make sure you take advantage of that!
Cut your utility bills
Cutting your monthly bills will help you stick to your budget. If you are struggling with various categories, making some extra wiggle room in your budget can change things for you.
Changing your cell phone plan or Internet provider will save you some money, but you can take it further by adjusting the thermostat, setting up a smart air-conditioning system, and installing energy-saving bulbs and appliances as well as water-preserving equipment.
Economize your driving
Family cars are necessary but they’re also a major expense. Regardless of where you live and how much you use the car, spending money on gas and maintenance is expensive in the end. However, if you don’t need to use the car every day, you could get rid of it altogether and immediately start saving money!
The alternative is to stop spending your money on gas, washing and maintenance and opt for hiring a car whenever you need it.
This idea has become quite popular around Australia, so you could consider trying it yourself. Give the services of car share in Sydney a go and see how much savings you’ll make. You won’t have to worry about registration, insurance or repayments as it’s all included. You can just pick a car from their wide range, even book it via an app, for one or several days, and drive completely carefree.
Use Cash for Problem Categories
If switching to a cash-only budget isn’t doable for you, you may consider using it only for problem categories.
For instance, if you always break your budget for clothing, consider setting aside a designated amount of cash each week or month only for that. Once you’ve spent that amount, consider it gone.
The same goes for other categories as well, such as groceries or eating out. Track your spending and keep the receipts. This can help you analyse your spending afterwards and determine at what point you run into problems.
Create a designated savings account
To save money effectively, you need to keep your cash account for daily needs from the money you intend to save, that is, your savings account. If you still don’t have one, now is the time to set up a designated savings account.
This will allow you to minimize the risk of you reaching into your savings funds to finance your daily expenses. It also encourages you to stick within your savings plan and not overstep your day-to-day budget!
Some of these hacks might sound a bit too complex initially, but in reality, they’re simple and effective ways to help you manage your budget.
Go through the list and make up your own tailored plan that will be sustainable long-term and help you save a considerable amount of money. In that way, you’ll have some savings but you’ll still be able to live a cosy lifestyle.