How To...Ball on a Budget

            There are things in life that we want, some we consider our guilty pleasures that often seem out of budget. Sometimes we decide to do it anyway, or we get disappointed that we aren’t able to afford it, and this often leads to and overwhelming sense of frustration with our finances. Today we’re going to discuss balling on a budget, and being able to have the desires of your heart without hurting your budget. These are steps I’ve learned and applied over my life and I hope it helps you in the long run.

 

1. Stick to a budget

            So in order to ball on a budget, one must have a budget to begin with right? Yeah…it’s a necessary evil. I never really believed in budgets because I felt that it was going to be limiting and force me to stick to some rigid rules. I learned how to budget differently and it has changed my financial life for the better and it’s a very freeing thing. Instead of being restricting it’s helped me to plan ahead in my financial life and gives me a true picture of what is actually available for me to enjoy life with. When I get paid, I ensure I’m paying all the bills due during that pay cycle and what’s left after that I give myself the freedom to spend on without guilt.

            If you need help creating a budget or you’re unsure where to begin, I’ve created budget template that can be downloaded from my website. Be sure to adjust that budget to fit you income, bill schedules, and other responsibilities. This is the place to be as honest as possible because it’s only here to help you! Include everything so that you’re not blindsided by anything and make adjustments as things may come up.

 

2. Buy in bulk

            When it comes to things that aren’t going to expire such as trash bags, paper towels, soap, or some of your favorite foods you eat regularly consider purchasing them from Sam’s Club or Costco. Yes it will cost more in the beginning, but you will find yourself buying it much less and it’ll be cheaper per item as well. Think about how often you find yourself buying tissue, paper towels, bathroom soap, or trash bags. What if I told you I only needed to buy those things about once or twice a year? The cost seems worth it doesn’t it?

            Some of my favorite foods are bacon, chicken wings, and Mountain Dew and buying them in bulk allows me to enjoy them guilt free. I was in the habit of buying a bottle of Mountain Dew every day at work which costs about $1.79 for a 20 oz (which is probably more than necessary), when a 36 pack of cans costs $13.86 ($.39/can). So in one day I’ve saved $1.40 and over the course of 7 weeks that this should last I’ve saved a total of $50.40 JUST ON MY DRINK. So for almost 2 months time I’ve saved $50 simply by making a smarter choice for my energy drink of choice. I still get what I want, but I’ve done it in a way that doesn’t hurt my budget.

 

3. Pay yourself first

            I used to underestimate the importance of savings and ensuring that I was creating a back up cushion for myself. It’s much cheaper to borrow from yourself than to charge up a credit card in the middle of an emergency. For me the hardest part of saving was the easy in which you can transfer funds between accounts that are linked. What ended up working for me was setting up an online savings account at Ally Bank that was completely separate from my other accounts. Not only does this account earn more interest because it’s in an online savings account, but the distance helped me and having to wait 3-5 business days for the funds to transfer helps me think twice if it’s necessary.

 

4. Learn from your mistakes

            The worse thing you can do is beat yourself up about a financial mistake you may have made. All you can do is forgive yourself, evaluate what went wrong and why, make a plan and commitment to do better moving forward. I don’t think anyone reaches a point where they’re perfect financially, there’s always going to be something to learn and grow from. Beating yourself up is only wasting time that you cannot get back over something that can be fixed with readjustment and refocus. Keep in mind the greater goal, take a deep breathe, and move forward.

 

5. Don’t be afraid of the desires of your heart

            Too many times we convince ourselves not to enjoy the desires of our heart or that they’re too outlandish for our budget in reality. I want you to feel empowered to do these things with proper planning and budgeting. Even if you have to open a separate account just for saving for trips, shopping, or whatever it is you want to do. Find ways to do it as cost effective as possible, but do it nonetheless. If traveling is what you want to do, ensure you’re catching the flight deals (Southwest has sales all the time) and set aside money to be able to pay for them as they come.

 

*Bonus* Find what works for you

            There are many different financial plans and tons of advice out there that may be confusing at times. Ultimately you have to figure out what works for you. As you’re researching different financial plans, be honest with yourself and evaluate what will work for you and be open to trying new things. Once you know what works for you, you’ll begin to see progress in your financial life and it will motivate further progress. Don’t be afraid to share your progress and what’s worked for you with others and be willing to help others along the way.