You’ve taken the plunge and decided to do some financial planning. It can be overwhelming at first, making it tempting to procrastinate. Try taking projects on one-by-one, with an end goal of a cleaner and more organized financial life.
One great way to start is to review your current spending habits and look for ways to cut costs. Start by identifying those expenses that are essential (i.e. food, utilities, transportation, housing, medical). Then, examine the costs over which you have more discretion (i.e. entertainment, dining out, hobbies, travel). Finally, look for areas where you can easily reduce or eliminate expenses in either category. Don’t set the bar too high- instead focus on making incremental improvements that won’t be so punishing as to become unsustainable.
Here are a few tips we suggest:
- Check your cell phone, cable and internet carrier charges. These expenses can slowly increase year after year; we often end up paying for services that we don’t even need or use. Try renegotiating your contract with the carrier, looking at competitors, or eliminating services that your no longer use.
- Most of us enjoy socializing over food and drink, whether it’s for lunch at your favorite restaurant or happy hour at a local bar. After a while, going out can add up. Try brainstorming alternatives: potluck dinners, meal planning, or tasting parties. Cutting back on one or two outings a week can make a big difference.
- When faced with an unexpected purchase, ask yourself, “is this something I want or something I need?” Institute a 24-hour waiting period for yourself. If you still need the item a day later, go ahead and make the purchase. Sometimes, the impulse passes and a few bucks can be saved.
Remember, by spending less, you can end up saving and investing more- and you can still have fun along the way.