Balance your wishes with your wallet.
It's a monetary maze: a big sale drops, you're meeting friends for haute cuisine and cocktails, that dream vacation is weeks away—and bills are piling up. While it may sometimes seem impossible to enjoy the finer things while sticking to a budget, it can be done. Consider these tips on how to have your artisan cake and eat it, too.
Create a budget and stick to it.
Starting a budget or sticking to a savings plan may appear far more difficult than it is—not that it's an easy feat. With diligence and knowledge, saving money could become increasingly attainable, depending on your unique needs and lifestyle.
West Michigan Woman asked Lisa M. Cargill, Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial Services, and Carmen Villahermosa de Cox, Business Development and Community Outreach Officer at ChoiceOne Bank, whether they feel it's possible to save funds while being able to splurge every on occasion. Their response? "Absolutely."
"The first step is creating a monthly budget that's realistic for you. For many, the word 'budget' can have a negative connotation," said Cargill. "I encourage my clients to reframe their thinking. Knowing where your money is going each month gives you the powers to ensure your spending aligns with what is most important to you."
Cargill adds that it's smart to build up your savings and maintain a separate emergency fund, so you're prepared for unexpected expenses such as veterinary bills or car repair.
"If you're married or have a partner, make sure you're both on the same page as far as budgeting and spending. Being open and honest about your spending habits can create a healthy financial foundation for the two of you."
Villahermosa de Cox notes it's also important to make sure people close to you are tuned in to your frugal planning.
"I think it's important for your friends and family to understand that you are on a budget and though you would like to go out and have fun, it has to be reasonable," Villahermosa de Cox said. "Many times, you are able to do this with Groupon for services and other applications that you can research in advance. Having the information on your cellphone helps—and most coupons are easily accessible through your phone."
Fun doesn't have to come at a price.
Ever feel like all the fun or interesting things you want to do at a given time happen to require spending?
Think outside the wallet! Examine the simple things that make you happiest in life and find ways to apply them to activities already within your reach.
Happiest when you're most relaxed? Take a drive to the lakeshore and walk along Lake Michigan or take in the one-of-a-kind beauty of Michigan fall colors.
Laughing hardest when you're with family and friends? Have a picnic in the park or host a potluck, with everyone bringing their favorite homemade dish.
Most joyful when traveling? Find a good book at the local library and get lost in a fantastic storyline.
Love to explore and collect? Peruse garage sales for affordable home goods and hard-to-find vintage furnishings—or enjoy workshops that let you create something you've coveted.
Whatever your method, remember: Saving your hard-earned dollars and giving up things that bring you joy are not mutually exclusive.
Villahermosa de Cox notes that though being frugal takes discipline, many programs exist to get you started and help you stay strong along the way.
"We find our customers end up loving the 'challenge' of saving."
While it may sometimes seem you're not making much progress, Cargill says it's important to stay confident in what's already been put away—even if it doesn't seem like a lot.
"Keep in mind that even a small amount of savings can make a big difference in helping you feel in control and on-track financially."
Useful Money Management Apps to Keep You on Track
- You Need A Budget
Courtesy of Carmen Villahermosa de Cox, ChoiceOne Bank
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for West Michigan Woman.