No judgement if your tastes skew a little more extravagant than your budget indicates. I think most of us know what it’s like to not have everything we want.
It’s an eternal struggle. Our money is limited but the list of things we can potentially do with it is not.
The quickest win is to cut expenses where possible. A dollar saved is a dollar earned (and won’t be taxed!). Trimming the budget = instant savings.
For most of us the three biggest expenses are housing, food, and transport. If you can cut down on any (or all!) of these big ticket costs you’ll be saving money every week/fortnight/month on these regular expenses.
While renting I always endeavoured to keep rent as low as possible, but now that I own I’m making extra principal payments with the aim of eliminating the mortgage outright earlier than scheduled. We’re a one-car household, which saves an untold amount of money, and while we could easily spend much more on groceries and eating out (and would love to) we keep it in check as much as possible, we also use a traders insurance to cover the car so we don’t spend that much money on insurance either.
Other recurring categories to look at are all your utilities and subscriptions – internet, phone, power, water, TV, gym, etc. I have a fear of commitment when it comes to these things and have no contracts for any utilities. That said, I do have a Spotify subscription, mainly for music on my commute!
Sometimes there’s no way around it – you just need to bring in more money.
If you can’t achieve what you want on your income, or at least make progress towards it – even after cutting back and ruthlessly prioritising – you may need to grow your income.
Whether that’s by diversifying your income and making money on the side, learning to negotiate or change jobs to make more, or even retrain and upskill in order to increase your earning potential, there are options.
In my experience this has made the biggest difference. Even when I was first starting out I was constantly side hustling to earn more money to squirrel away for my goals.
Making more has seriously supercharged my ability to get ahead. With that extra money I’ve been able to save and invest, buy a house, stop buying clunker cars. Quite simply, I could not have gotten this while making $40k, because there’s only so far you can trim expenses. I increased my income $15k overnight, and almost $30k in under 2 years – no amount of frugality could have achieved that same impact.
If you want to get right back to basics, the key thing is to spend less than you earn. And thus there are only two ways to improve your financial standing are: spend less and/or earn more.