5 Ways to Stay Under Budget This Month

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Let’s be honest here…the average twenty something isn’t exactly rolling in the dough just yet.  Entry level positions have notoriously low salaries, the bills for your student loans have just started rolling in, and don’t even get me started on the financial woes of being a graduate student.

No matter what your situation, everyone could use a little help staying under budget.  Even if you come out in the green every month (seriously, what is your secret?!), no one is going to turn down a little extra cash in their pocket, right?

Below are 5 things that you can do this month to stay under budget:

1. Plan Your Meals
I am a big fan of the weekly menu method to help me save a little at the grocery store.  Every weekend I sit down with with my iPad and flip through Pinterest, Yummly, and  AllRecipes (all great apps, by the way!).  Also, be sure to check the sales paper for your local grocery store and plan around the specials! I typically plan five meals for the week, giving myself a little wiggle room for nights I go out or don’t have time to cook – but do what works best for you.  By making a list of only the ingredients I know I need, I am able to avoid overspending at the grocery store and keep myself from making multiple trips throughout the week.

2. 5 Minutes Less in the Shower
I am extremely guilty of playing the long shower game.  Honestly, I could stay in there all day if I didn’t have to do real people things like go to work or class.  As you can guess, this isn’t so great when my water bill comes.  If you too are leaving the house with pruned fingers each morning, I challenge you to cut down your shower by 5 minutes (or more!).  Bonus: imagine how productive you could be with that extra half hour each week!

3. Change Your Thermostat by One Degree
Especially in the harsh winter months and the dead of summer, one degree can make a big difference in your electric bill.  Apartments especially, have notoriously thin walls and poor insulation.  Don’t make your air conditioner work extra hard to maintain a cool 70 degrees when you would still be comfortable at 71 or 72! For the winter, invest in a snuggly blanket and throw on a sweatshirt…you’ll thank yourself later.

4. Or, Turn it Off Completely!
Whether or not this is an option depends completely on where you live, of course, but in areas with temperate seasons, why use electricity to do what nature already can? On a breezy spring day, I love nothing more than to cut off the AC and open my windows.  Take advantage of outdoor temps  – just make sure you have the screens up to ward off unwelcome visitors (looking at you, spiders).

5. Mix Up Your Weekend Plans
This is the time in our lives when going out to bars two or three times a week is not only acceptable, but widely encouraged.  However, paying bar prices for drinks, you can quickly blow your social budget in just a few hours! This weekend, find some other things to do with your time.  Check local papers for inexpensive (or even free!) concerts, food truck festivals, or farmers markets.  Hit the beach or lake with some friends and bring your own cooler. Or even grab a cheap bottle of wine and Cards Against Humanity! The possibilities are endless and your wallet will thank you.

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