Saving money has been a hot topic for generations- and with inflation being at a 40-year high, it is at the forefront of many people’s minds. Living expenses are continuing to rise, and people all over the country are feeling the pressure.
While budgeting can be challenging for many, it can help bring peace of mind as you assess your spending habits and take control of your finances. Here are some foundational tips to help you get started.
- Establish your “why” and shift your mindset
Our thoughts surrounding money and budgeting can be a big determinant of our financial well-being. Before mapping out your budget, it’s helpful to establish why you are doing this in the first place. Are you wanting to build up your savings for emergencies? Are you wanting to establish a better system for managing your expenses? Are you needing to pay off debt? Establishing your “why” and proceeding with that in mind will help you remain focused and disciplined.
For many people, the word “budgeting” can have a negative connotation of scarcity and restriction. While it can require you to make necessary sacrifices, budgeting often propels people forward, as it helps them take better control of their finances. Shifting your mindset is vital in helping you stick with it!
- Identify essential expenses
Differentiate between needs and wants, and prioritize your essential expenses ahead of everything else. Essential expenses include housing, food, transportation, and utilities. Then give attention to your other financial goals, such as paying off debt, saving for retirement, etc.
If you have disposable income after the essentials are taken care of, dedicate some of it to fun outings or hobbies that you enjoy. Do you enjoy golf? Going to the movies? Even when you are sticking to a budget and saving money, it’s important to refuel and enjoy things that matter to you!
- Get your food budget under control
For many people, food is one of the biggest expenses every month- especially if you eat out often, or if you have multiple people to feed. Here are some practical tips to manage your food costs:
- Eat out less often. How often you eat out is ultimately up to you, but cooking at home more will help you lower your food budget immensely.
- Make a grocery list and plan ahead. If possible, try to plan your weekly meals ahead of time, and buy groceries accordingly.
- Use coupons! Using coupons on multiple items can lead to big savings. It’s worth trying!
- Buy in bulk. Identify foods that you eat often (aside from produce and perishable items) and utilize memberships to Costco and Sam’s Club to buy them in bulk. This can help save money in the long-run.
- Make coffee at home! Multiple Starbucks trips can add up quickly. Making coffee at home cuts these costs significantly!
- Utilize leftovers. Make meals that can go the distance! Stretching your groceries and ingredients can make a big difference.
Automate as much as you can
Use technology to your advantage! Set up automatic transfers to relieve your mental load and ensure your money goes where it needs to. Nusenda Credit Union offers Bill Payer via Mobile and Internet Banking where you can easily automate your payments.
On the flip side, take inventory of your automatic transfers to make sure you aren’t paying for subscriptions that you no longer use. This can add up quickly!
- If using credit cards, utilize rewards
If you are using credit cards, take advantage of rewards and cash back offers. At Nusenda Credit Union, our Visa Platinum Rewards and Visa Platinum Cash Rewards cards come with amazing benefits! During the month of September, you can earn three bonus points or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar spent on gas expenses, education expenses, and travel expenses. Money back in your pocket is always a good thing!
Nusenda also offers helpful resources for budgeting and money management. In our efforts to strengthen our members’ financial confidence, we have partnered with Banzai to provide clear, in-depth lessons that empower you to tackle financial topics that matter most to you. Whether you are learning to budget, planning to buy a house, or even teaching your children about financial literacy, Banzai has practical information to help you develop financial wellness. Our BALANCE Financial Fitness Program also offers comprehensive financial education and counseling services at no cost to you. Go here for a schedule of upcoming financial workshops!
At Nusenda Credit Union, we’re dedicated to improving our members’ financial well-being and supporting them through affordable products, friendly service, community involvement, and financial education. We'd love to find other ways to help you save money. You can reach us at 505-889-7755 (800-347-2838 outside the Albuquerque area) or make an appointment to meet with us at any of our branch locations.