Most of us would rather be saving rather than spending any spare cash we have each month paying down debt, but it can often feel like you are swimming against the tide and won’t get to a position where you can concentrate on creating some meaningful wealth.
It’s time to take a positive outlook and appreciate that it is possible to turn over a new leaf and cut your expenses, leaving you with money to put towards building a stronger financial future.
Here are some tips to help you identify some areas of your spending to target, including an insight into a pivotal moment that changes your views about money, how to target reductions in your spending, plus ways to some tips to help your savings go further.
That Light Bulb Moment
It happens to many of us in a similar financial position. You suddenly realize that you owe thousands to loan and credit card companies, you have no emergency fund let alone any worthwhile savings, and you barely make it from one payday to the next.
If any part of this scenario resembles your own financial situation you will almost certainly hit a point where you think enough is enough and something has to change to improve your position.
It might be when your card gets declined for some groceries or you have to leave your car in the garage until payday because you don’t have the money to settle the bill right now.
Whatever it is that turns the light on in your head and wakes you up to the reality of your situation, take advantage of the impetus you have created and set about making some changes to your finances that could transform your relationship with money.
The overriding message to keep in your mind when you are tackling your debts and creating a budget is the simple truth, that if you don’t take steps to control your money, it will ultimately control you instead.
Budgets Aren’t Boring
Ok, that might be a hard one to argue against but make no mistake, budgets are a necessary and integral aspect of your strategy to regain control of your finances, so boring or not, you need to put all the figures together to see exactly where you currently stand.
Write down or use a spreadsheet to input every single monthly expense you currently have.
It is not just a case of adding up your fixed costs like mortgage or rent, utilities, loan payments etc, the extra money you are looking for each month is always going to found by analyzing your discretionary spending and targeting payments and spending habits that can be changed or eliminated.
Cutting Your Expenses
Are you still paying monthly for a gym membership or subscription service you no longer use or do you buy a coffee on the way to work every day?
These are just a few examples of where you can be wasting money paying for things you don’t use anymore, need, or could get cheaper if you did it yourself, like making a coffee at home and taking it with you each day (you could instantly find an extra $60 per month approx if walked past the coffee shop with your homemade version in your hand).
Other areas where you could reduce your spending includes some motoring expenses. For instance, if your download a Mercedes service repair manual (or whatever make and model you own) you could learn how to do some of the basic maintenance and repair tasks yourself rather than paying a garage.
Draw a Line Under Debt
You are going to have to deal with the debt that you currently have and work out a repayment schedule that clears what you owe within a certain amount of time, but what you don’t want to do is add to the balances you already have to contend with.
Nothing ruins your wealth-building plans more effectively than adding more debt to your existing burden so draw a line under what you already owe and treat that as the starting point for redressing the balance and increasing your balance instead of your debt balances.
Put Your Money to Work
You don’t want your hard work to go to waste by not putting the extra money you have created for yourself to good use.
It is likely that you will have to take a few calculated risks with your cash to get a decent return on your savings. Put some money in savings for emergency purposes so that you don’t have to borrow to pay an unexpected bill, but get some professional advice and set up an investment portfolio for the rest of your spare cash.
Consider the idea of setting up an automated payment to your investment funds so that you get into the habit of putting money away each month.
It is never too late to turn your situation around, so set to work today on creating wealth.
Reece Lloyd is a personal consultant on many financial matters. When he finds something he thinks will be helpful to others, he writes about them to post on a variety of money and lifestyle websites today.