The 411 on Budgeting

Recently, I moved off of campus and my rent has been kicking my butt. On top of that, it feels like I wake up every day and there’s a new bill to be paid. Yet, I spend money on unnecessary things such as a drink from Starbucks every morning on my way into work. So, I sat down and had a talk with myself about how to save more money. I knew that I received a biweekly paycheck from my job, as well as tips during each shift, with that in mind I made a master plan. I save all of my tips for my rent and spend my paycheck on food, gas and other necessities. So let's break all of that down.

Food

I usually spend about $15-$20 per day on food. I would eat at least one meal outside of my house each day, which seems a bit ridiculous. So let's calculate that. $15 per day for seven days a week, that's approximately $105 per week or $210 every two weeks. My paychecks are about $400 so I’m spending about half of my check on food alone. That’s foolish! I decided to cut out the constant need to eat out and went grocery shopping. Being a vegetarian who can only cook the simplest of meals, left me in a terrible mood, but I decided to go with it anyway. I spent about $80 and that would last me about a week. I also purchased iced coffee which would substitute for my need to purchase Starbucks drinks each day. In total, I cut out about $50 from my bi-weekly spending.

Gas

I spend about $25 each week on gas. This is an expense that I can’t substitute but I made the conscious decision to spend less time driving in order to save gas. I would walk around campus instead of driving. I would only drive to places I needed to be, instead of doing meaningless activities that would use up more gas than necessary.

Other Necessities  

Instead of getting my nails done every other week, I made the decision to polish them myself, which would save me about $50 a month. I would also spend less time furniture shopping, even though it’s a guilty pleasure of mine.

Overall, the time I spent budgeting would mean nothing if it wasn’t for the Mint app. I downloaded the app when I knew my spending was becoming excessive. The Mint app shows me how much I spend each week and what I spend my money on. It also compares each week to the previous weeks, to show how much my spending fluctuates.

Sacrificing the simplest of things such as Starbucks has helped me save hundreds of dollars each month. Living a more frugal life does not always mean giving up the things you love. It’s about knowing what’s more important and what you’re capable of giving up in order to meet your goals.