We all have goals we hope to achieve. Some are feasible. Others are pipe dreams. The trick is to know the difference. Most goals cost money, and we are often held back from achieving ours by our conviction that we cannot afford it. The truth is, we can afford more than we think if we don’t squander what we have available and set priorities and budgetary goals to help us.
Here are seven awesome budgetary goals to help us get there:
1. Create a Budget
Itemize all dependable sources of income. List all necessary, inflexible expenses, such as rent or mortgage. Add flexible costs, such as food, entertainment, and hobbies. Obviously, we can choose steak or spaghetti. Don’t forget clothing. Include laundry and dry cleaning. See where you can adjust to your benefit.
List savings, and have it deducted first. Cut unnecessary items, such as coffee from the barista. Make your own and get a thermo-cup. Stick to your budget and your savings plan.
2. Start an Emergency Fund
Everyone’s budget has crashed on the shoals of emergencies at one time or another. Prepare in advance. Put a set amount in an emergency account and if forced to use it, replenish it immediately.
Once you’ve got your set amount into this fund and your finances are balancing out once more, it would be beneficial to continue to add more to this fund when possible. You can have a fairly clear sense of what your routine expenses will be, but you never know how much financing an emergency will cost you.
3. Get a “Goal Jar.”
A goal jar should be realistic. If you your goal is to just save money up to a certain point just so you can blow it on an unnecessarily expensive item, you might want to reconsider. Many people view this jar as more of a financial goal, rather than a goal to reach so a certain item can be purchased. However, if your goal is for something necessary, i.e., house, car, college fund, etc. then a goal jar is a great choice.
You need two: a container for extra change (or dollars) and savings account for transferring saved amounts into it. Every time you save money, drop it into the jar, and when it’s full, take the jar to the bank. Many people drop all their pocket change into the container every evening. Others write a check equal to the amount saved by shopping sales or using coupons. This account is untouchable.
4. Search for Ways to Save on Expenses
Shop sales, cut coupons, pay cash. Every dime saved is a dime in your “Goal jar.” When people look at their expenses, many find that one of the biggest problem areas is food: not that you need to stop eating, but need to watch what you eat. Fast food and restaurants can significantly diminish your wallet’s density if done so frequently and lavishly. Once again, sharing food at a restaurant and packing your lunch instead of hitting the drive-through is a great way to save on your regular expenses.
5. Limit Fuel Use
Set a monthly limit for the number of times you will fill your gas tank in a month. To stick to it, combine trips, running at least two errands every time you go, organize your trips to avoid back-tracking, and consider taking public transportation. Grocery shop once a week and make a list, so you don’t forget things. Shop online where you can get free shipping.
6. Clean Your Closets
Hold a garage sale. Drop the proceeds into your goal jar. If you prefer to donate, use your time at the thrift store to find things you need. Books, movies, coats, jackets, dishes, and cutlery are often as good as new. Some specialty thrift shops, such as one to benefit breast cancer research, carry excellent quality clothing.
7. Share with a Friend or Neighbor
Go together with a friend or neighbor to the grocery store to buy in quantity. Split costs, transportation, and products. A whole sirloin or pork loin may be too much for one family, but perfect for two, often at half the price. Cases of copy paper may cost half as much as the same amount bought one ream at a time. Sacrifice quality and buy an all-purpose paper. The amount of savings that can be achieved when you decide to simply buy what you need and don’t get hung up on a brand name, may not seem all that much, to begin with, but over time can add up to a sizable amount.
Achieving our goals is not as difficult when we chop them up into small bites and take them one step at a time. With goals, a budget, and some painless sacrifices, we can all get there. It’s a matter of priorities!