Going on a budget means making big and small lifestyle changes
Like us, we’re sure you have a bunch of financial resolutions and goals this year. The vacations you promised yourself you’d take, the down payments you absolutely were going to seriously save for… but somewhere along the way, life and all its demands tend to derail us from all our grand plans. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a few small tweaks to your lifestyle, you can be well on your way to a substantially healthier bank balance. Here are a few everyday things to help you get started.
Weekly money date
Even if your heart is in the right place, and you’ve decided you’re going to live a more economical lifestyle, it’s not going to be easy or come naturally to you from the get go. In the initial months, you’re going to have to sit down, evaluate and introspect – often. Plan for it. The best time to do this is on Friday evenings, so you have a realistic view of how you did, money-wise, through the week. And can stop yourself from blowing your budget over the weekend – the most vulnerable time for most of us – in case you’ve already overshot your limit. It might seem difficult and frustrating initially, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll start noticing how cutting small corners can lead to big savings in the long run.
This is especially useful if you mostly use cards instead of cash to make payments. You won’t believe how significantly little impulse buys can eat away at your savings. Spending Rs 1,000 on a bra you don’t need but fell in love with might not seem like too much of an ask in the moment, but three-four such spur-of-the-moment purchases in a month could add up to the cost of a Thailand trip in a year. Not so tiny after all, is it?
If you’ve been thinking of quitting anyway, going on a budget is the best time to go ahead and do it. Both your wallet and your lungs will be grateful for it.
Cancel useless subscriptions
One day, sit down and figure out whether you’re actually using all the services you’ve subscribed to. Do you really need an unlimited internet plan for home if you’re spending 10 hours at office? Do you need cable when you’re watching everything on Netflix? Are you really making use of the magazine subscriptions you’re buying – most of them give you free access to articles (up to a limit) online anyway, are you reading more than that? If you have a flat mate, maybe you can share your subscriptions with each other? You could save a lot, each month, with some careful recalibration.
Pause and check, before buying
Fashion is always cyclical, and a retro look is always edgy. You won’t believe how much of what you “need” to buy is already in your closet, or your friends’. When friends go up or down a size or are spring-cleaning their closets, call dibs on what they are discarding. So many of us give up barely used clothes simply because we get bored of them, realise they don’t flatter our shape or colouring, or because it no longer fits us. You and your friends could save a packet if you make it a habit to rotate stuff like books, music, clothes and accessories.
Opt for quality, not quantity
It’s worth spending on quality products when it comes to things you use regularly – particularly in the case of gadgets. It might be more expensive in the immediate term but it will save you a lot of money, time, energy and effort in not having to get them repaired or parts replaced. It’s also better to spend on one good, expensive all-purpose face cream than on half a dozen not-so-great ones. Same goes for shoes and fashion basics like your white shirt, black pumps, etc.
DIY beauty treatments
While trying to live on a budget, it’s always a struggle to decide what are non-negotiable beauty spends and those that you can live without. But if you’re as addicted to beauty treatments as we are, this could be the area where you veer off your budget. Fortunately, there’s YouTube to the rescue. There are enough and more DIY tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest to help you get your fix of beauty as well as save a ton of money. Not only will you end up learning new skills and hacks while giving yourself a mani-pedi-facial, you’ll learn a lot about your skin health. Plus, it’s immensely de-stressing.
If you’re heading out for a night of drinking and partying, meet up at a friend’s house before and drink a little before heading out. It’ll cost you way less than if you order all your drinks at the club and automatically make you pace yourself. Also, make sure you and your drinking buddies aren’t driving. Surge pricing might hurt the pocket but it is way cheaper than drunk driving challans (or jail!) or, worse, hospital bills.