Expect the Unexpected – Top 3 Budget Tips
We have all been there… when your expenses seem to outpace your income. When an unexpected expense leaves you feeling stressed and unable to make ends meet. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take that will help make those times feel a little more manageable! Check out our top 3 budgeting tips for expecting the unexpected!
Set up an emergency savings:
Budgeting rule #1 – Always pay yourself first! This means that you set aside a small amount from every pay check to put into savings. The recommended amount is 10%. If you can’t do 10%, figure out how much you can save and slowly find ways (2nd job, wage increase, cutting expenses) to increase that amount!
Take advantage of the tools your credit union makes available to you. This includes home banking, direct deposit and automatic transfers. Set up an automatic transfer into your savings each time you get paid. If you don’t see the money in your checking account, you won’t miss it!
Trim the fat from your budget:
Do you know where ALL of your money is going each week? If the answer is no, then you need to write it down! For one week, write down every time you spend money, how much and where. This can be a very eye-opening experience and show you the areas of your budget where you can cut back. This does not mean you have to cut back on everything you enjoy in life! But, you can determine if there are some simple changes you can make that can save you money.
“Fat” categories to consider:
- TV/Entertainment: We all know, cable is a fortune. Can you cut the (cable) cord and go with a streaming service instead? Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime make watching your favorite shows easy and affordable.
- Eating out/specialty drinks: This small enjoyment can add up quickly. Do you stop and get a specialty coffee everyday on the way to work? Are you eating out for lunch each day? Do you go out for dinner multiple days a week? These are all areas where you can cut back (not completely cut out) and save!
- Groceries: As much as we all love the convenience of your local brand name grocery store (and possibly the grocery delivery service they offer), we pay big bucks for that time saver. We are HUGE fans of discount grocery stores! We have many (Sharp Shopper/ Aldi’s) right here in Central PA, that will help you save big time when it comes to your grocery budget.
- Clothing budget – Thankfully (for those of us who love to shop), clothing is considered a NEED when looking at needs vs. wants on a budget worksheet. However, this could also be an area you can cut back when looking at your budget. Could you buy less expensive brands (or find them on clearance)? Also, look at whether you actually NEED more clothing. 4 hoodies may be enough to last you through fall/winter.
Increase your income:
And finally, one of the easiest ways to prepare for the unexpected is to increase your income. This may just be for a short period of time. Could you pick up a 2nd job during the holidays? That is a guaranteed time frame that you will begin and end employment. Does your current job offer overtime/extra hours you can choose to pick up? The key is to set the extra money aside in that emergency savings!
At the end of the day, we know that even if you have planned for the expected, there are still times that it may not be enough. Thankfully, your credit union is here to help. Take advantage of the products and services we have in place to help when you have an unexpected expense. This includes our 2.99% intro VISA credit card. The best part is that you get to keep the 2.99% rate for the lifetime of any balances/purchases from the first 12 months. Even AFTER the intro rate expires! Call our expert loan officers to discuss this and other options to help in an unexpected situation!