When you’re creating a budget that will work for you and your family for the first time, it can be difficult to know what to include and what to exclude. Once you’ve prepared your budget and tracked your expenses for at least a month, you might be able to see some areas that need some attention.When I meet with clients for the first time, this is one of the first things that we go over.
Here are the top four categories that help financial coaches and clients discover on average $325!
1. Dining out-The cost of dining out continues to go up especially for residents who live in Washington state where the minimum wage is high. The cost of food has also gone up. And those “couple of questions” to answer when the server leaves the table…yeah the recommended amounts you leave for a tip? Sometimes we’re in such a hurry to leave, that we don’t pay attention to the options. I’m all for tipping AND sometimes we have to slow down. I don’t recommend not ever going out to eat, but based on your budget, consider going out once a week or once a month. Set a number on your budget and work within that for the month.
2. Subscriptions and memberships-How many subscriptions and or memberships do you pay for now? They can be hard to track because many of these are on an annual auto-renewal. Some of these include streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu or YouTube. What if you have subscriptions to other digital resources like Audible, Amazon Prime, Stitch Fix or AnyList to name a few? You might have memberships to the local gym, Costco, or AMC theater. There are also plenty of gaming subscriptions that can significantly impact this category in your budget. I recommend choosing fewer solutions. Maybe one streaming service, one subscription and one membership and only if these don’t keep you from making significant progress on your financial goals.
3. Coffee & alcohol-For some people these are two separate categories. However, these are not necessities. I encourage using some creativity with these. Can you feel just as alert by exercising in the morning instead of a venti, whatever from wherever? Can you have a glass of wine per week instead of three? Again, my recommendation here is moderation unless you are in Baby Step 7 (living and giving generously).
4. Cosmetics & hair care-This is a big one for many of my clients. Sometimes this category coincides with the idea of selfcare. We must be careful about these things when they become more maintenance and work than selfcare. Contrary to popular belief, hair can grow, and it doesn’t have to be colored (or removed) every six weeks. IYNYN
Most of these categories are related to the idea of keeping up with the Jones’s. We want to have all the digital solutions and be able to do all the things that everyone else does. This way of thinking keeps people in a cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. Many people in this cycle earn plenty of money to sustain a good lifestyle and make progress on their financial goals. We just can’t do it all, all the time.
Which one of these categories have you struggled with or seen others struggle with? You see what they order at the restaurant or know that they go to the coffee shop every day and wonder, how do they pay for all of that?