If you’re like most people you loathe the word budget. It’s the equivalent of a four-letter word to some, but in many cases it’s a necessary evil to reach financial goals. Budgeting doesn’t have to be dreadful but can be easy!
Evaluate your finances: Take a good look at what you spent you spend your money on each month. Do you find you spend way too much dining out or maybe your cable bill is out of control? Those areas may be where you could carve out additional money to save.
Do you have a specific savings goal? If not, make sure you have at least 3-6 months living expenses set aside. Once you determine your monthly savings goals adjust your budget to meet them.
Auto-pay your recurrent monthly bills: The easiest way to budget is to set your recurrent monthly bills on auto-pay like your cable, phone, electricity, etc. Take analysis of these expenses and see if they are really necessary. Some of these expenses may be negotiable. Do you really need to spend $200 on Dish TV when you can get by with Netflix, Hulu or a Roku for a fraction of the price?
Put yourself on a “cash diet:” The third aspect of your budget should consist of a “cash diet” for your variable monthly expenses. Variable monthly expenses include grocery, clothing and entertainment.
Set aside a certain amount of cash for each expense and place it in an envelope. Spend only what is in the envelope on the allotted expense. When the envelope is empty, your spending is done for the month.
If you happen to have money left over at the end of the month roll that money over into the next month if you want extra money to spend in that area. You can even add the extra money to another envelope if you want. The point is to not increase your spending money by adding additional money outside of your budgeted envelope money. Say you have 4 envelopes divided into four different categories and the total money of all envelopes combined is $500 and you place $125 in each envelope at the beginning of the month. If you find at the end of the month you have an additional $25 in one envelope feel free to move it to another envelope you feel you need more money in.
If you tend to run out of money earlier in the month than you expected then you either need to scale back on your spending even more or allot for more money in that category.
Remember to pay yourself: After setting up the previous three aspects of your budget the saving part should be easy. Everything left over from your monthly bills should be placed in a savings account.
When you budget for a couple of months you’ll have an idea of how much you can comfortably save each month. As a matter of fact, make your monthly savings a “recurrent monthly bill.” Set your savings up on an auto-pay just like your bills.
Remember to continually look for ways to save more money through your budget. Maybe you could put your extra envelope money at the end of the month into your savings instead of another envelope? Make it a habit to follow these four steps and watch your savings grow!
In addition to working as a FNP, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her book, You’re a Nurse and Want to Start Your Own Business? The Complete Guide, available on Amazon. Visit her ReNursing blog at www.renursing.com for more ideas on how to reinvent your career
Nursing can be physically taxing on the body, putting your health, and ultimately your finances in jeopardy. This can all be avoided by taking steps to being healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Every nurse needs to be healthy, wealthy, and wise to sustain a long, productive, and financially rewarding career.
How is this achieved?
Taking care of yourself: This means losing the extra 20 lbs you’re carrying by making healthier food choices and exercising. Taking care of yourself also includes cutting out bad habits such as smoking and binge drinking on the weekends. Getting enough sleep is also important and everyone should strive for at least 7 hours per night. Nurses are also notoriously known to not drink enough water when working. Drink up and aim for at least half your weight in ounces daily. Water helps aid in weight loss, flushes out toxins, and keeps you from getting UTI’s during those long shifts.
Saving for the future: Everyone, nurse or not, needs to have a savings account. There are many types of savings accounts, but for the sake of simplicity nurses need to have at least two. The first major account you need a retirement fund. Take full advantage of your employers company match if they have one…it’s free money! The second account you need is an emergency fund. Experts suggest having at least 3-6 months worth of living expenses in this account, but you can start with saving $1,000. If something unexpectedly comes up; ie: loss of employment, sickness, vehicle breakdown, ect, you will have the money and won’t be near as stressed due to finances if you didn’t have an emergency fund.
Education: Education is the key to getting ahead in life and in your career. I’m not necessarily talking formal education here, although formal education has its place. The type of education I’m talking about is the life-long learning that a nurse must do to keep up with advances in healthcare. Be proactive with your education and seek out new learning experiences that will make you a valuable asset to the healthcare team. If you’re in an environment and someone is offering to train you on a new skill…do it! More education may lead to more money for you in the long run, helping you meet your wealthy goal more quickly.
In addition to working as a FNP, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her first book, You’re a Nurse and Want to Start Your Own Business? The Complete Guide, available on Amazon. Visit her ReNursing blog at www.renursing.com for more ideas on how to reinvent your career.
One simple way to save money is to brown bag your lunches every day. This is a favorite tip among financial advisors. Brown bagging may not be anything new, but if you want to save up to $1,800 per year, you may want to consider it. $1,800, really? Eating out adds up. Think about it: If you spend about $7 each day on lunch, that adds up over the course of a year. Even if you have a modest $5 lunch each day, that’s $1,300 annually.
If the thought of having to prep a boring bologna sandwich in the morning before work doesn’t sound appealing or appetizing, keep reading. Here’s a simple trick to help you only think about your lunch menu once a week.
Choose a day of the week to stop by the grocery store and stock up on yummy sandwich supplies – bread, good cheese, deli meat, veggies, sandwich spreads or whatever else you love on your sandwich. The idea here is to make your sandwich more than PB&J (although there’s nothing wrong with that). Be sure to add some “sides” to your menu including things like fruit (apples and grapes are good and will last the whole week), low-calorie chips, hard-boiled eggs, celery or baby carrots and humus. If you enjoy fruit juice or ice tea, pick that up too or make a large homemade batch. Now you have all of supplies you need for a week’s worth of tasty and nutritious lunches. Your supply may even last longer than a week – depending on the item. For instance, a package of cheese may have enough slices for two weeks.
Stock up on your lunch supplies at wholesale stores like Costco or discount grocery stores like ALDI.
Store all of your supplies at work utilizing your desk, locker or a safe drawer for your bread and the office refrigerator for your cheese, meat, veggies, etc. Be sure to label your items so that it’s clear that they are yours. Now each day at work you have enough supplies to make a quick and healthy lunch.
This method could easily cut your lunch budget in half. Feel free to spice things up each week by switching from sandwiches to salads. You could try different varities of lettuce, toppings and dressings. You can also try different deli meats and cheeses and/or a new sandwich spread (e.g. cranberry aioli). Another way to add variety is to bring leftovers from dinner — just to give yourself a change.
Image Credit: Grant Cochrane/freedigitalphotosnet
Denene Brox is a Kansas City-based freelance writer.
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