Check it out – you decide that you want to tackle some debt and decide that you need to create a budget.
What do you do?
Well, if you’re like most people you pull out all of your monthly bills and make a list of how much you have to pay out each month, including things like groceries, and then look at your check stubs to determine how much you make in the month.
Once you do that, you see that you can snip a little here and there and really tackle this debt thing.
You get real excited now.
And guess what? That excitement fizzles to nothing. You had good intentions, but it just didn’t work out this time. You may even make up some excuses as to why this super debt action plan didn’t take.
Don’t worry – this is a LOT of people. But, it doesn’t have to be you THIS time.
Like me, you can get stupid awesome at budgeting, instead of being stupid at budgeting.
5 Stupid Awesome Steps To Achieve Budgeting Ninja Status
While it can be time consuming, coming up with a budget is actually pretty simple. I mean, think about it – you just make a list of all the money you spend in a month and all of the money you make in a month. Then, you create an action plan that gets you to your end goal (paying off debt, saving up for something, and so on). Simples, yes? It’s everything else that can trip you up though. So, here’s some stupid awesome tips to help you keep moving forward with that budget.
1. Look For Cost Savings on Essentials
Think about all of those essential monthly bills that you have to pay each month. For me, that is:
- gas (used only for heat)
- cable/internet/phone (same company)
- trash/recycle pickup
- cell phone
- renter’s insurance
- car insurance
You may have less or more essential monthly expenses, but you can use my list to get started on yours. Once you have this list, look for ways to lower your monthly cost on the bills. Obviously, you can’t call up the electric company and get your rates lowered 🙂
But – there are a few things you can do. For instance, since my gas is only for heat, I turned it off during the warm months as the gas company charges a $10 monthly fee for their “billing service.” Plus, the pilot light in the gas fireplace is ALWAYS on, which was making my air conditioner on more than it needed to be.
Regularly checking rates on insurance and cable service can also result in the opportunity to save a little money.
2. Look For Lower Interest Rates
If you’re like me, you have enough debt that you can’t qualify for any new credit cards with 0% balance transfer offers. *cue sad trombone* Fortunately, there are still ways to lower the interest rate on your credit cards.
For a while, I thought about using a site like Lending Club to try to consolidate my debt at a lower interest rate. Then I realized that if I couldn’t get a 0% APR credit card, then I likely couldn’t get a good rate with peer lending.
So, I started noticing that my Capital One credit cards included balance transfers every so often. In the past, I’d been annoyed by this since there was practically nothing in terms of available credit on it. I mean, really, let me rush to sign up to transfer a balance with my $32 in available credit. Fortunately, I stopped being stupid about it and turned it into a stupid awesome opportunity.
I got one of those balance transfer options in the mail for 0% for one year and NO FEE! Wahoo! BUT – I only had around $30 in available credit on that card out of $750 in credit limit. AND – the offer expired in 45 days!!
What did I do?
I worked my butt off to make extra money and I funneled every last cent into paying off as much as I could on that balance. Two days before it expired, I paid off the balance. It took one day for the payoff to clear and with one day to spare, I transferred a balance to cover the full credit limit. So, take notice if you get offers like this for any of your credit cards – just be sure to check the balance transfer fee and APR before doing any transfers.
3. Super Sleuth Out Your Extras
If you put a magnifying glasses on your expenses for the previous month, you are likely to discover some extras trying to blend in with the rest of your bills. I’m talking about your non-essential spending. For me, this is made up of things like pricey lattes, chocolate, movies, stuff from the Target dollar bin at the entrance and so on.
Guess what? Every cent you spend on the extras is a cent you could put towards your debt! Yeah, you probably already knew that. But think how much better that latte will taste in a few months (years?) when you have all that debt paid off and you can sip on it and think about how little you have in monthly bills. Oh, and if you’re like me – stop going to Target! Cause those dollar bins are like crack!
But seriously, you don’t have to cut out all the extras to become a stupid awesome budget ninja. For me, I traded in trips to the movie theater with Netflix. And I buy less lattes and chocolate. But that Target dollar bin still gets me sometimes!
4. Make Money Grow On All Yo’ Trees
Wouldn’t it be great if we really could grow money on trees? Well, not so great for me as I seem to be able to kill even the houseplants that are tagged “easy care,” so there would be no money on my tree.
Anyways, coming up with more money is obviously the easiest way to pay down debt and stick to a budget. If you’re working a traditional job, then you can try asking for a raise, but that doesn’t always work. Picking up extra shifts or getting a second job is another option.
My suggestion? Get a legit second job that you can do from home. The best source for this, that I have found, is at http://realwaystoearnmoneyonline.com. I know some people who are doing online chat/customer service for some major websites and earning $10/hour to do it – and they got the lead from this site. Right now, Overstock.com is hiring for that exact position (go here for that). I work 100% at home doing a few different things and I make legit money. The best part is that all I have to do to earn more money is to work more hours. Simples, eh? It’s been the secret to my recent debt paydown success.
Other things you can do include selling stuff on eBay/Craigslist or selling a service on Fiverr. Think outside the box and I’m sure you can come up with something to fill those trees with money.
5. When All Else Fails, Ask For Help
If you end up with too much month at the end of your money, and you’ve tried everything else, maybe you just need a fresh pair of eyes. While professional financial services can likely be beneficial, I urge you to not jump into paying for help when you already can’t make the budget balance out.
Instead, ask a friend, family member or maybe even a personal finance blogger for some tips. One of them might have the key you’ve been looking for all this time.
Original image credit: Sethiroth66 at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons