I was having a conversation with my brother about how much I spend on takeout, and he told me that he didn’t eat out at all during college. I thought that was insane! It’s so easy to get into the habit of ordering food every night or ordering pizza once a week. But when you’re trying to cut costs, it’s important to make smarter choices with your money.
Figure out your cash flow.
One of the most important aspects of budgeting is knowing how much money you have coming in and going out. The first step to this is tracking your spending habits. You can use an app like Mint or YNAB (which stands for You Need A Budget) to do this, but a simple notebook will work too. Just make sure that whatever method you choose allows you to easily spot trends and note any changes in your typical spending habits that might indicate something is wrong.
If you find yourself with an overall negative cash flow—meaning more money comes out than goes in each month—it’s time to do some serious soul-searching about where all your hard-earned cash is going. If it seems like most of it has disappeared into thin air, chances are good that there’s at least one big bill that can be drastically reduced or eliminated entirely: subscriptions! Are there any online services or apps that aren’t providing enough value for their price tag? Can the cable company be negotiated down on rates? Some areas may offer free Wi-Fi; if so, why not cut back on overpriced cellular data plans?
Highlight your savings goals.
It’s important to set aside money for savings goals. Some people think of savings as a luxury, but they’re not—they’re a necessity in case something goes wrong. If you want to buy a home or car, save up enough money so that you won’t need to rely on credit cards or loans. Setting up some funds in advance can help keep your financial situation stable if things don’t go according to plan down the road.
If you have multiple savings goals, prioritize them by listing them out with the most important goal first and then working down the list until all of your goals are accounted for. For example:
1st – Emergency fund (to cover unexpected costs like car repairs)
2nd – Retirement fund (for me when I retire from my job)
3rd – Vacation fund (so we can take some vacations after our wedding)
4th – Student loan debt payoff plan (I’ll graduate college next year; this will help me start paying off my student loans early)
Cut down on spending.
- Cut down on eating out
- Cut down on shopping
- Cut down on entertainment
- Cut down on car expenses
- Cut down on utilities
Use alternatives to subscription services.
- Use alternatives to subscription services.
Instead of paying for a service that you don’t need, use free alternatives like the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and Google’s cache feature to find older versions of websites.
- Buy in bulk.
Buying in bulk can save you money on everyday items like toothbrushes and razors, but it can also help with big-ticket items as well. For example, you can save a ton of money on a new laptop by buying refurbished or used ones online instead of paying full price at a store.
You can still live a healthy lifestyle and save money during a recession.
- Don’t cut out every expense. There are some things that should be a priority, like paying your rent and bills on time. Keep in mind that you can still live a healthy lifestyle and save money during a recession by not cutting out every expense.
- Be creative with your budgeting. Look for free alternatives if you want to save money on certain items or services instead of buying them outright, such as using an old couch instead of buying new furniture or having friends over instead of going out to eat at restaurants all the time!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you have friends or family members who have been through this before, they may be able to offer some advice on how they survived their own recession!
We hope that this post has inspired some ideas for how to budget during a recession. Remember, the best way to save money is by planning ahead and being proactive about your finances. Don’t be afraid to make sacrifices if necessary—even if it seems like a lot of work at first. In the end, though, it’ll all be worth it when you realize how much money you have saved up from cutting down on spending or making more efficient use of resources!