In my teenage years, I was delighted to learn that we would be given a whole day off in high school for a science trip. The trip was outdoors, gathering and collecting lots of different things to bring back to the science lab for testing. Great, I thought. But the day out came with a cost. We were required to bring a small penknife (to help collect samples of tree bark). There was one local shop that sold such items, and news began to spread that there were really cheap ones or really expensive ones. Nothing in between. Naturally, everybody wanted the best one available, for bragging rights (I know, dumb, right?). I had just been given a handsome sum of money for my birthday, and decided I would spend it all on my penknife. I begrudged doing so, because the month earlier was my mother’s birthday (which ate into my funds) and the month after was my father’s birthday. Sigh.
We all learn lessons in life as we go, and this was my first wake-up call that every single month there was always going to be an expense that I didn’t really want to pay for … meaning my money wasn’t always all my own. That’s when I first got into budgeting.
Firstly, if you’re struggling for cash, make sure you are claiming any benefit entitlements (such as child benefits – or check out the easiest things to claim for VA Disability if you are a veteran).
The 10% rule
This one is a little childish but it really works. The idea is simple enough. Save 10% of everything you earn. What seems like a small amount will soon be twice as large the month after, and bigger still the month after that. Over a period of 12 months, the savings can come in super handy for any unexpected spends.
Budgeting needn’t be so difficult that life becomes harder by orders of magnitude. Simply change your favourite store brands for a brand a little lower on the shelf. Over the course of an entire shopping trip, changing brands for cheaper versions of the things that you know and love can save you a small weekly fortune.
Sell unwanted items on social media
Social media marketplaces are the number one place to make a fast local sale on any unwanted goods (e.g. bikes, tables, children’s toys). Save this money for extra budgeting towards life’s upcoming financial demands.