Ways to Live Happily Within Your Budget

Cutting back is no fun. But it may be necessary if you find yourself continually struggling to meet your basic financial demands, falling into deeper debt or getting to the end of yet another month with no money set aside for savings. Is there a way to make those spending cuts without changing your lifestyle? Rather than giving things up, what if you were to implement new approaches that allowed you to maintain the lifestyle you love while still finding ways to save and live within your means?

Take the time to review your recurring bills and monthly statements. See where you might benefit from a renegotiation or an assessment of alternate options. Even ordinary expenses like insurance should be reviewed annually to ensure you’re getting the most appropriate coverage for your current circumstances at the best possible value. Speaking of negotiation, never take a price at face value. You can save hundreds of dollars on things like household repairs and medical bills by doing the necessary research ahead of time and challenging the statements and quotes given.

If there’s one thing you actually want to cut out, it’s unnecessary fees. Stop paying for the “privilege” of things you can get for free. Whether it’s withdrawing money from an ATM or investing in retirement funds, look for low or no-cost alternatives. Utilizing your fee-free options can mean banking an extra couple hundred bucks each year or using that additional breathing room to finance other, more exciting ventures.

Believe it or not, vacations don’t have to get cut out, even when discretionary allowances are tight. Renting out your home while you’re out of town can offset the majority of your getaway costs, allowing you to enjoy indulgence without stressing over excessive additional expense. This strategy is admittedly easier in cities with a high demand for temporary housing, though you can always test the waters by listing your space on Airbnb and seeing how much interest and extra income potential you can garner.

While vacation costs can largely be offset by rental income, more frequent splurges are often harder to accommodate. Rather than cutting them out entirely, see if you can reduce their frequency. Get your hair done every eight weeks not every six. Go out to a nice dinner once a month instead of every week. Not only will this save significant cash without much sacrifice, it will also increase your splurge enjoyment.

If all of these adjustments aren’t enough to make a dent in your debt or prioritize your savings and you’re still struggling with the idea of sacrificing your lifestyle, perhaps you can better commit to saving tomorrow. Rather than folding future raises into your regular monthly budget, funnel those income bumps directly into savings or toward debt pay off or whatever financial goals are of highest priority. This automatic rerouting of additional income keeps you from inflating your lifestyle beyond your means without sacrificing your current standard of living.    (References: US News & World Report)