Lifestyle Magazine

2014: The Year Of Improving My Budget

By Abrunetteinthecity
2014: The Year Of Improving My BudgetDuring the last few months of 2013, my friend & I were looking to find an apartment in NYC. It was at that time I realized I needed to improve my budget if I wanted to be able to live in the city that I love! At that point, I knew what I could afford based on my paycheck but I had to cut some corners if I wanted to be sure to live comfortably.
I started to make some changes, and although things fell through in my apartment search, I have found myself still sticking to these changes because they really aren't that hard to do! So whether or not you are trying to cut corners to save up for something, or just to cut back on spending, here are some of my helpful tips!
Create a list of things you NEED, and stick to it!
I found that when I go food shopping with a list, I actually stick to it and I am not tempted to go wandering around to find food I don't actually need. So not only am I saving money by not purchasing unnecessary items, but I'm also saving some calories too as I'm not checking out the junk food aisle!
Prepare your meals for the week
Working in New York City means I am constantly tempted with food at every corner. Literally. And that food doesn't come cheap! You want a sandwich? That's $9.50. A drink? Another $2.50. Want a snack for later? $2.00. That's a total of $14.00.
$14 at 5 days a week = $70 for your lunch every week
That's a total of $3,640 a YEAR for your lunch and a snack.
I never realized how much I was actually paying for lunch every week, and I started to pack my lunch for health reasons rather than financial reasons. But I am so lucky I did. I can spend $60 a week at the grocery store to stock up on food for my breakfast, lunch and dinner rather than $70 a week for lunch alone.
Keep your receipts that you spend on lunch for a couple weeks and see how much you end up spending. You'll be surprised, and packing a lunch may seem annoying but I usually prep all my meals on Sunday which means I just have to grab my container in the morning and I'm out the door!
Try to limit your spending using particular Apps rather than using a credit card
The one thing I cannot give up is my Starbucks. I treat myself to an iced coffee every morning just for getting out of bed and trekking into the city! Is it unnecessary? Yes. But do I need my coffee? Absolutely.
I don't NEED anything else from Starbucks given that I usually pack my breakfast, but in the case that I forget, I'm sometimes tempted to pick from their pastries.
So to remind myself that I don't need them, I downloaded the Starbucks App that lets me load any amount I want and instead of having to swipe my debit card at checkout, I can simply scan a barcode on my phone. Given that I should only be getting my coffee every morning, I allot myself $25 to my account so I know I can only spend that amount for coffee, and coffee only!
Knowing I only have $25 means I'm less likely to be tempted to purchase something I don't need rather than giving them my debit card where I carry more funds.
Switch to cash when possible
I know how convenient debit or credit cards are, but try making the switch to cash. I usually always have my debit card with me just in case of emergencies but cash is my go to. I find that I am much more aware of what I am purchasing when I have to physically hand over some cash rather than swipe a card because I can see my money disappearing from my hands!
There are always going to be exceptions, and it takes some time to get to know how much you usually spend and what you’re spending it on, but it also makes you much more aware of your purchases. But as I saw my savings account increase, I realized that the switch was really helping me and I no longer had the temptation to make little purchases that I didn’t really need.
I know it can be difficult to make the switch (it was for me at first, too!) but I keep my debit card buried deep in my purse so I can’t get to it easily.  
There are so many different ways you can cut corners to save yourself money, if you have some please share them!

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