Whether you want to save more, invest more, or pay off debt, it will require freeing up cash in your budget. Where should you begin? Jot down the answers to these three questions and see how dramatic the progress can be.
1. What can you do without? Be brave! Almost without exception there are items in every budget that can be eliminated. The expense can be large – like a car – or something as small as movie rentals or fast food. Sometimes there are things we are paying for and not even using. Gym memberships come to mind. Keep in mind your original goal and this will feel less like punishment and more like an exciting challenge.
2. What can you use less of? Of the things that you can’t or don’t want to live without, what can you use less of? Can you eat out once a week instead of twice? Get rid of premium channels in your cable package? Think moderation instead of elimination. Even downsizing a home fits into this category if you’d like to use that money toward other goals.
3. Of the things you continue to pay for, how can you get them more cheaply? The possibilities here are endless. There are ways to save money on everything from housing to groceries. Check out the Frugal Living Blog at Families.com. Challenge yourself to cut your costs in each budget category by 10%. Imagine what that would do for your cash flow!
Once you’ve answered these three questions you’ll be off to a great start, but don’t make this a one-time exercise. Re-visit these questions often as your answers will surely change. The objective is to make this kind of thinking a habit so that you’re always moving closer to meeting your financial goals.