Budgeting: Finding Extra Money In Your Established Budget

Here are a few ideas that will help you go through your budget to find that extra money you may need for new expenses or just to have a little breathing room at the end of the month.

It is a strange phenomenon that many have not only witnessed, but experienced in their own lives. You are about to purchase your first new car and you sit at the dealership signing paper after paper wondering where in the world that three, four or five hundred dollar car payment is going to come from. Maybe you and your spouse are expecting your first child and have tormented yourselves with the fact that you will need to have a lot of extra money for diapers, food, clothes, education funds and the like for that new baby. Or perhaps your spouse has been laid off and you are terrified that your lunches and dinners will now consist solely of ramen noodles and water until your spouse can secure a new job. Suddenly, though, in all three of these situations, you balance your checkbook and things are fine. You are still able to have dinner out a few times a week and money isn't as tight as you thought it would be. What happened? Where did all the extra money come from? You were sure your budget would be a little tighter.

It is true when they say that necessity breeds innovation. Somehow, subconsciously, you have tightened your own budget in different ways to make way for newer expenses. You may be thinking to yourself, "Well, this all sounds great, but I'd rather not sit and wait to get pregnant or get a pink slip before I start fixing my budget!" Then read on and learn about some ways you can find that elusive extra money in your budget now.

All Those Small Things DO Add Up

How many of us get that cup of coffee in the morning on the way to work? If we go to the high-end coffee places, that cup of coffee or mocha may run anywhere from $1.50 to $4.00. Even if we visit the local gas station, that cup of coffee will still run you a buck. Say we do that five times a week, four weeks a month. That is twenty coffees and anywhere from $20 to $80 a month. We can run these same calculations with any of those small things we buy on a whim during the day like candy bars, chips or sodas from the vending machine. If we buy one soda a day for seventy five cents and we do that twenty times a month, that's $15. Many of us tend to ignore these "small" expenses because they ARE small expenses...if you do them only once. Add them up and it's quite another story. Wake up five minutes earlier every morning and brew your own coffee or buy your own snacks and drinks and take them to work. You will be surprised with how much you can save. Try even for one week to stop yourself from purchasing these small items. Anytime you stop yourself, put that money you would have spent into a jar and see how much you can accumulate in seven days. It's amazing and will make you think twice about shelling out a few coins a day.

What ARE Necessities?

You may have the high-end digital cable with ALL of the movie stations, sports stations and news stations your heart could ever desire. Make a list of those shows you actually watch. For most people, you would be surprised at how many stations you actually watch a day. I've known people with hundreds of channels who will usually really only watch three or four of those channels. Cut back on your cable or, if you're too busy to actually watch a lot of television, eliminate it altogether. That could be anywhere from $40 to $150 a month.

You may be one of those people that LOVES to subscribe to tons of magazines or buy the newest CDs, movies or books. Drop these habits and go to the library. Most libraries usually have several magazines they subscribe to, as well as all of the newest book releases. Many libraries also have video libraries you can rent from for free. Instead of rushing out and buying all books, all movies and all music, give them a test drive first at the library. If you REALLY want to own that book, CD or movie after having it read, listened to or watched, then shell out the money for it. At least this way, you save a couple of bucks a month by "screening."

I guarantee many people would vote that their perfect night out would consist of taking in a movie. Instead of going to that movie every week and paying anywhere from $6 to $10 for the movie and then $10 to $20 dollars for refreshments, find a discount cinema or wait for the movie to come to video. Better yet, wait for that movie to come to your local library!

Keep track of your insurance premiums, especially for your auto and home. For most people who pay monthly, these types of insurance are recalculated once or twice a year. Call in at least once a year to find out if there are any discounts you can qualify for. If they are unwilling to negotiate better premiums, shop around with other insurance companies and find out their rates. Nine times out of ten, your own insurance company will be willing to negotiate if they know you are shopping around. Do the same with your credit cards. While it is not recommended to keep switching around credit cards and transferring balances (for credit reasons), call your companies and ask to negotiate the interest rates.

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