Maximizing $

It was barely two months into the New Year when I had a big unexpected expense: car repairs. And I was just starting to catch up from the holidays, after the shopping sprees and travel expenses that come along with that time of year.

Needless to say, I’m stretched thin at the moment.

But this got me thinking: How do I maximize my money when the purse strings are tight? I think we all face this question at some point or another, whether you are established in your career, starting your first job or still in school.

Whether you’re stretching money to your next paycheck or stretching your loan money throughout the semester these tips may help make your money last:

  • Track your money. Do you know where your money goes? Knowing how much you spend on non-essentials will help you turn away from the next impulse spend. There are tools such as My Money Map that can help track your spending and budgets you set for yourself.
  • Think discounts. You don’t have to give up everything. Find discounts for the things you want to do. With daily deals and discount sites like Groupon and Living Social, there are plenty of deals to be had, whether it’s discount movie tickets or meals. Students, don’t forget there are many discounts and perks offered just for you as well.
  • Create a budget. Budgeting will help get you from today through the next pay check or the end of the semester. It just takes four steps. First, look at your income and savings. Next, plan for your expected expenses. Then, factor in some pocket money. And finally, save what you can.
  • Don’t give up on your budget! You might need to make some tweaks for your budget to work for you. Check up on your budget from time to time. See where you may need to adjust your planned expenses.
  • Plan for the unexpected. Build an emergency fund. Things happen, unexpected expenses happen. The only way to deal with this is to make sure you have some funds set aside for such occasion. While it may seem ironic to plan for the unexpected, it really does help to be prepared (as much as you can) for the unforeseen. Like pop quizzes, they catch you by surprise but as long as you’ve kept up and paid attention you’ll fare okay.

What about you? How do you stretch your money?

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One Response to Maximizing $

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to Dave Ramsey, I’m a big believer in having an emergency fund. But just as he says, the emergency fund isn’t intended to deal with financial nuisances, but true emergencies; events that would financially devastate you. Along with your advice of planning for the unexpected, is planning for the expected. A car repair, for example, isn’t really a “true” emergency in the sense that it isn’t totally unexpected. Brakes, engines, transmissions, etc., they all wear out eventually. Because we know this, we shouldn’t use the emergency fund to deal with it, but instead budget for those eventual, “expected” repairs. I save $50 a paycheck into my “auto maintenance & repair” fund. Since nothing has gone wrong with the car in almost a year, it has grown into a sizeable amount. So when my brakes start making that “locomotive coming to a halt” noise, my radiator needs replacing, or the flux capacitor goes on the blink, the auto repair fund I have should take care of it, leaving my emergency fund untouched.

The Student LoanDown

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