If you’re anything like me, having a monthly budget can be a little restricting. I know it is helping me in the long run, but sometimes I really want that cute pair of shoes even if I’ve already hit my clothes spending limit for the month. Instead of feeling constrained by your budget, learn to maximize it with these four easy steps. You might not be making more money, but it will help your money go further.
1. Think long term. It can be easy to get stuck within the 30-day window of a monthly budget, but sometimes it helps to think of things on a yearlong basis. Don’t feel like you need to burn through your monthly budget on something that can be spread out over a few months, like paying off a loan or stocking up on Christmas presents.
2. Plan ahead. Instead of spending more money on impulse buys and items you are desperate for, plan ahead and get items when they are at their lowest price. Make a list of items to buy that aren’t essential at the moment, like a new shower curtain or new running shoes if your current pair is wearing out. That way, you can take your time to shop around. Buying in bulk is another way to think ahead and find cheaper prices.
3. Use your resources. Take advantage of ways you can lower costs, such as coupons, sales, and frequent customer rewards. On everyday purchases, these little savings can add up, but they can make a quick impact on your budget on big purchases like a house or car, where you have options to buy used or certified pre-owned.
4. Invest. It may seem counter-intuitive that locking up some of your money helps to maximize your budget, but investing is a good way to spread your money and turn it into something more. If you’re on a limited budget, only invest a small portion of your paycheck—you’ll reap the rewards later.