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Tips and Tricks for Living on a Budget

Living on a budget? What are your top tips or tricks for tracking expenses and creating a budget? Share your top ideas below!

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Periodic Contributor

not wanting things anymore is a big help.

 

doing the 2 days a week reduced calorie eating plan helps on food.  and supposed to be healthy. only way i could lose weight anyway.

 

pay most monthly expenses with cash using a 4 -envelope plan.  set my budget after a few months of close monitoring.  get the budget cash at the start of the month and put in an envelope for monthly necessities,  1 for monthly fun, 1 for long term necessities & 1 for  long term fun.  as i spend during the month mark it down on the envelope.  as the envelope gets thin really reduces the desire to spend.  been staying way under budget.  put the leftovers from each envelope in the long term necessities one, almost have a whole year worth set aside already.

 

say yes to seminars offering a free meal.

 

free entertainment at the library.

 

have kids pay their cell phone bill.

 

 

not done yet
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Periodic Contributor

I grew up on skid row, south of San Francisco, next to the railroad tracks. As a child we sometimes didn't have food to eat for 1 or 2 days, but we didn't know we were poor, even with holes in our clothes and shoes. Those days taught me to be frugal. My mantra has always been: Do I need it, or do I want it? And if I need it and can't afford it, I don't make the purchase. But we were happy and I didn't know until I was older that we were poor. I am still a very happy soul and give to others when I can. Our mother taught us to give not because we had a lot, but because we knew what it was like to have nothing. You would be surprised how much you can give to others "when you have nothing."

Periodic Contributor

My local newspaper subscription jumped to $261.83 for the next 13 weeks.  I called and said, "Can't do that.  How much would you charge for the digital subscription instead?"  The response was "I can offer to extend the same print subscription to you for that same price for 6 months instead, if you'd like."  It took 3 minutes to save $261.83.  And, I was bluffing.  I prefer to read the paper.

Newbie

Retired at 51 1/2, was fortunate to have a pension that I could survive on.  One of my best savings tricks is to pay bills early in the month, leave $100 in checking for things, and moving the rest of any money to savings.  Once in a while I have to pull some back as I overlooked an annual bill or had an unexpected car repair.  This discipline has allowed me to save several thousand dollars by the end of a year.  Plus, savings usually has a higher interest rate!  Able to live this way until I could withdraw annually from 401K account.  And, this year I am able to claim my full SS benefits.  Will continue with my savings scheme, as it has allowed me to travel and open education savings for the "great" niece/nephew generation.

 

Another way I save is to pick up coins from the ground when I spot them.  Cash my coins in and get a gift card or buy a meal out, that I would not do if I were not spending my change.

Periodic Contributor

I shop for birthdays and Christmas year round - I buy at the end of the season - it takes time to go through the sale racks - department and discount stores are best. I keep a box in my closet with a list by name of everything I’ve purchased. I picked up some “dog tag” style Star Wars chain in March $1.99. It was the hit of my 10 yr.old granddaughter’s birthday in July. You will be surprised how many perfect gifts you find at 70-80% off

Periodic Contributor

One other tip I wanted to share is a site called "Brad's Deals" I like this site for several reasons. 

1. Almost everything is free shipping. 

2. All merchandise is from "legitimate" stores, not a website managing orders. 

3. When something is on sale, with a manufacturers rebate, store credit (Kohl's cash), etc. 

    ALL of the forms you need to submit for rebate are right there on the site. So you don't have to 

    go hunting around on coupon sites to locate a rebate which may or may not exist. 

    Example: Daughter wanted Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (Retail $499.00) - found on Brad's deals at 

       Kohls. 

        $100.00 rebte Kitchen Aid 

        30% off on sale

        $75.00 in Kohls money 

    NET: $121.00 for the Stainless Steel Stand Mixer.  (purchased in Oct.) 

4. One drawback is sometimes it can take awhile depending on location  - I just got some Puma l 

    purchased some PUMA leather sneakers for $15.00 shipped. Retailer in Florida took 2 weeks.

5. They give you a "market overview" as to how the price on this deal stacks up with other prices out      there.       

 

THIS IS NOT AN AD FOR THIS SITE. Just wanted to share their unique bargain approach to shopping on line. 

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Regular Contributor

I like to buy certain items at Costco but the amount is generally too large for one person; so I have 3 friends who like some of the same things and we share the products and the cost which usually turns out then to be cheaper than in other grocery stores.

Contributor

I use Intuit's Quicken to track my expenses and plan out my monthly budget.

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Periodic Contributor

Create a realistic budget, based on what you have been spending over the last year or so, then track future spending against it. Lots of free computer apps will help but paper and pencil works too. Key is to have realistic expectation and self assess progress on a continuing basis.

Regular Contributor

I'm 70, married with no children.  Having no children deffinitely helps live easier during retirement.  Believe it or not, I planned my retirement at age 14.  It came to past.  During my working years, I saved as much as possible.  We did travel all over Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean but we NEVER went into debt for anything until our first home.  Too many people buy boats, RV's, motorcycles, etc.  Most of which they might use once a year.  Rent it.  It's cheaper.  When planning your retirement, decide if you want to move.  If you do, check out the income taxes, property taxes, etc.  I live in Oregon with high income taxes.  But, I do not pay any as I am not working and my retirement is exempted due to a special law that exempts a portion of or all of your military retirement if your duty covers certain years.  Otherwise I would have had to live in a state I did not want.  Pay off your mortgage before you retire.  Don't keep giving money to adult children and relatives or you will never retire.  Don't co-sign for any loans for anyone for anything.  Unless you are very wealthy, you will never retire if you have any loans.  Move to a smaller house or apartment, at least half the size of your current one.  Once retired work part-time if you want and if anyone will hire you after age 50.  Once we reached social security age, i.e. 62, we both took it.  Yes, one receives a reduced monthly payment, but, how long do you really expect to live?  I've known too many who died at age 70 through 76.  Why wait to collect SS?  Keep at least two years annual pre-retirement income in savings.  Six months savings is nothing.  Don't touch any types of IRA's until your late '60's.  Make sure you take out just enough to keep you from going into a higher tax bracket.  Save what you take out.  If you have retirement from your job and healthcare - great.  Use them.  If you do not have any retirement but have to retire on savings alone, then you need at least 1.5 million saved in order to take out only 4% a year to get $60,000 pretax dollars.  Of course this must be adjusted so that you never use your base savings amount - until you get really old.  The wage earner needs to provide income for the spouse if that person dies first.  Get insurance on yourself.  The most important thing after the above has been done - don't overspend, i.e. go into debt or spend all of your savings.  We live comfortably, buy what we want and still save.  We don't scrimp.  Hope this helps.

Regular Contributor

     My suggestion, and I realize that we all do not have the opportunity to employ this, is to not retire until such time as we can access retirement funds that are about 10% more than what we need. My belief is that there will always be the unforeseen expense that presents itself....and we better be ready for it.

Social Butterfly

I don't have a budget, per se. What I did most of my life, was to re-evaluate the day, each evening and morning, as to what things were done or still needs tending to. Therefore, I had a new "budget' each morning. As long as I didn't waste my money, and lived within my means, everything always worked out (more or less).

Regular Contributor

It is just my husband and I at home. We both still are working but When we go to the store for a week at a time and plan out our meals we actually usually spend more than if we just eat out. There are always coupons for places to eat and some places have specials on certain days. Plus there is no mess to clean up afterward.

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Contributor

Have you tried signing up for free grocery cash back programs? Try ibotta.com. savingstar.com or checkout51.

 

You won't find all the products your looking for but I received 73.00 cash back since July on ibotta alone.

 

It's worth a look.  Try Groupon for restaurants and most definately worth trying ebates.  Received over 8.00 off my new fitbit tracker plus 10.00 for spending over 25.00.  

 

As long as your buying only whst you would buy anyway and not buying just for the fun of a cashback reward.

 

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Periodic Contributor

I have always remembered what I was told years ago. "Don't spend money when you do not have to." Has always reminded me to look at other options.

Periodic Contributor

or, "can I live without it"?

 

Trusted Contributor

Helps if your cheap.Only buying when given a great deal.That keeps me from going to Disneyland or overpaying at restaurants or anywhere else.Another thing is over shopping price.I can do a lot of price comparisons for an item and eventually get tired of doing it and decide to not buy it.It ends compulsive purchases.

Super Contributor

Best way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket. My parents used to say that, as they were depression era.
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