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Making room in your budget for life's luxuries

Posted November 26, 2012 by Jessica to Frugality 0 0
This post was written by a EasyFinance.com Community member. The views expressed below may not reflect the views of EasyFinance.com.

Any working budget can have its various parts divided into two categories: Essential expenses and non-essential ones. You can't do much to winnow down the monthly cost of your rent or mortgage payment, so many of your bills are non-negotiable. But when entertainment, gifts, travel and other purchases come into play, there's plenty of room for readjusting your budget. The big question is: How?

There's more than one way to create a budget, and if you're trying to squeeze more flexible spending out of your fixed income, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic. By getting creative with your spending and savings habits, you can free up extra funds that can go toward the finer things in life. And with the holidays on the horizon, there's no better time to overhaul your budget.

That said, here are some strategies for stretching your dollar.

Institute a spending freeze

The best way to save? By not spending. As crazy as it sounds, if you swear off spending any money for a selected period of time, the savings could be significant. Some families have instituted no-spend months in which they purchase all their food ahead of time, and then commit to spending either no money at all or a set, limited amount for the entirety of the month in question. The sacrifice can lead to hundreds, even thousands of dollars in savings every year. If you can't commit to an entire month, test out the strategy for one or two weeks and see the results for yourself.

Buy in bulk

It's a well-known saving strategy, but many people remain leery of buying gallon-sized ketchup containers and 50-roll packs of toilet paper. Although the up-front cost can be daunting, purchasing goods in bulk can lead to serious savings down the road. It's almost never a good idea to buy things in small containers or quantities, so if you have the space in your home, make your best effort to buy non-perishable goods in large quantities.

Move your savings out of sight

Some people have trouble seeing their money and not spending it. If this describes you, keeping your money out of sight should help make it easier to save. Whether you open a savings account at a different bank or shove cash under your mattress, put your money in a secure place where you can easily forget about it. Then one day you'll remember your stash and clap yourself on the back for having built up a comfortable nest egg.

Plan ahead

If you're traveling for the holidays, or if you have future vacations coming up, it pays to plan ahead. By buying plane tickets, hotel reservations, rental cars and other goods and services well in advance, you should be able to enjoy some much-needed savings on otherwise expensive purchases. Certain travel expenditures, like a travel insurance policy or airline baggage check fees, are more of a fixed cost, but in general early purchases will deliver savings.

Not everyone finds the same saving strategies effective, so in some cases it takes a bit of guesswork to find out what methods best serve you. If you require venturing into the unorthodox—or even the downright weird—to save money, more power to you. In the end, your ability to save will be determined by your commitment to controlling costs and your willingness to sacrifice now for long-term budget relief.

About Jessica: Jessica is frugal by nature but loves to travel! She learned to balance these habits by budgeting her spending so that she can put aside funds for luxury vacations, yet still be able to afford necessities like a travel insurance policy.

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