Anytime is an opportune time to review your monthly budget and annual goals. This used to be a tedious process but with Dane County Credit Union’s online banking called eBanking, it’s so easy to track spending and see your savings account grow.
Monthly Budget: Priority #1
Whether you use your favorite app, spreadsheet or a notebook, always begin by looking at your income and expenses. In the beginning, your spending habits do not have to change but simply keeping better track of them makes an immense difference. Do you really spend that much every week at Starbucks? Are you actively using both gym memberships? Do you need the extended cable package?
If you mostly use your debit card, search frequent merchants when looking at your online banking transactions to see how much you’ve spent there. Set a goal to spend a little less. Do this for each place you frequent.
This does not sound like much but this is a huge financial savings windfall. Get to know the prices for the non-perishable items you always buy and watch weekly sales flyers for specials. Stock up when prices are lowest.
Take the time to plan a few meals for the week and you’re less likely to pick up expensive take-out on the way home from work or practice. Most weekends, typically Sunday afternoons, spend an hour or so in the kitchen for weekly food prep.
Having a few things ready for dinner and lunch will quickly add up to savings at the end of week. Even better, two or three evening meals often provide leftovers for lunch the next day.
Bring Your Lunch
Do this. Often. This is not to say you can never eat out but make it more of a special occasion. It will be a weekly or biweekly event to look forward to. Yes, you need a break during the middle of the day but make it a walk with lunch instead of the drive-thru lane.
Next to eating out, entertainment is an expensive endeavor but there are alternatives. Libraries have extensive DVD collections these days, including the newest releases. My local library also has a weekly movie night open and free to the public. During the warmer weather months, many communities will offer free outdoor movie nights.
Recently I had to replace a part for the car. While the price was reasonable, I diligently checked around to make sure it was competitive. I will do this for everything from salons to dry cleaners to specialty items. This is also a time to watch for:
- merchant sales
- frequent shopper programs
- online discount sites such as LivingSocial.com or Groupon
Keep on it
As you look ahead to next month’s budget, keep all of these tips in mind. And remember, the easiest part of managing your budget is to start using online banking or Mobile Banking with Dane County Credit Union. All you have to do is review your spending, find ways to cut expenses and put some of your surplus into a savings account. This will help you reach those year-end goals!