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While it might not be the most exciting part of growing up, working within the parameters of your budget is an important part of being an adult.
But don’t fret — if you implement a few steps to work on your finances, you can budget responsibly and save a lot of time and energy (and maybe even some money!) that you can use to live life to the fullest.
1. File your own taxes
One way to save a little cash and become better acquainted with the actual numbers behind your earnings is to file your own taxes.
This can help you get a better understanding of how much money you net, how much of it is going to taxes, and what other benefits you are paying for. If you earn under $73,000 per year, you may be eligible to file for free using selected software from an IRS-eligible tax prep partner.
Make sure you are also aware of what happens if you file taxes late and how to file for an extension if you think you might need some time.
2. Figure out your expenses
Before deciding where your extra money is going, you should account for all your expenses.
This includes everything from your standard monthly expenses (such as mortgage, gas, phone bill, gym) to less frequent expenses like taking your best friend out for a yearly birthday steak or your dog to the vet for a series of vaccines every six months.
Once you have your expenses figured out, you can budget responsibly and will be more equipped to see how you can achieve your savings goals and still have some left over for fun.
3. Figure out where you can save
When you were tracking all your expenses, did you happen to notice any line items that seemed excessive? Perhaps it is time to cut those.
For example, do you really need to be subscribed to six streaming services? Maybe cancel one and buy a concert ticket instead. Or do you notice you make a lot of impulse athleisure purchases? You can try deleting your credit card information from your store accounts.
Look at all your non-essential purchases to see where you can cut.
4. Look for discounts on the fun stuff
Perhaps most importantly, remember that having fun doesn’t have to cost a lot of money! There are plenty of resources out there to help you look for activities that are cheap.
If you’re on social media, try following accounts based in your neighborhood, or search for blogs that promote inexpensive or free events.
If you are a student, you can look out for discounts; for example, check out museums to see if they have discounted tickets on certain days. And don’t forget there are also plenty of activities that are always free: going for a walk, catching up with a friend, or taking a YouTube class.
The opportunities are only as limited as your imagination.