The older and more financially independent we get, the more the word “budget” becomes something we begin to think of and talk about often. Unless you are Folorunso Alakija or Bill Gates, chances are, reckless spending will result in your account permanently in the red with no savings to speak of. Although many of us are familiar with the idea of living on a budget, having savings, learning to invest, and other things that make us fully functioning, financially sound adults, in reality, majority of us hardly ever consciously do.
When we keep track of how our money is spent each month, the first thing we notice is that seemingly small expenditures add up very quickly
The truth is, living in Nigeria, especially Lagos which has been ranked the 13th most expensive city in the world, expenses pile up so quickly that most of us end up in survival mode, spending as we receive and many times ending up at a deficit. So what do you do when you are not in a position to increase your income but you would like to have money left over at the end of the month? Well, the first step would be to identify and cut out all unnecessary expenses.
When we keep track of how our money is spent each month, the first thing we notice is that seemingly small expenditures add up very quickly. One of such noticeable areas for many people is our food spend. So we have come up with some helpful tips on food budgeting:
Create a food budget, and stick to it — Journal your eating and food spending habits for a month. Generally, our diet tends to consist of similar foods that we keep in rotation, so it is easy to draw out the patterns of how we eat and what we buy often. Through that observation, we can estimate exactly how much we need to spend, while cutting out frivolities, and set a weekly grocery shopping budget.
Stop eating out so often — This is pretty obvious; Stop spending so much money dining out! Those bills add up pretty quickly. The average meal in a restaurant in Lagos can range anywhere from N1,500–N5,000 and if you really feel like splurging, a sushi dinner can set you back about N30,000. yikes! When you calculate how many weekends you dine out socially; with friends, birthdays, after work drinks, etc, you could be saving a pretty penny! If you are trying to cut back on your spending, try to be disciplined about eating out, making exceptions only for special occasions.
Shop smart — There are many items that are smarter to buy in bulk as it is relatively cheaper and will last a long time like dry pantry goods, and some items such as fresh vegetables that is sensible to buy only as much as you need for your shopping cycle; because they decay quickly and easily lead to waste (throwing food out is essentially throwing your money out.. ouch!) Knowing where to shop is also important: prices are generally cheaper in local markets than they are in super markets, and comparing prices between two supermarkets can also save you money.
Meal Prep is King. Take packed lunches and snacks to work — Many of us are too lazy to prepare our own lunch for work, but it could save you the extra lunch & snack money! Coming back home after a long day can be tiring, and the last thing you want to do is cook.. so try to prep all your meals down the weekend before, and even pack them in individual packs for an easy grab and go. Packing your own lunches and snacks not only saves you money, but it also helps you pick more nutrition packed options.
Be more social — at home!– Instead of meeting up with friends at overpriced restaurants and paying the same amount for a cocktail that you would for the bottle, take turns hosting dinners, potlucks or game nights. Alternatively, you can all contribute a small amount weekly to a pot and at the end of the month, decide how to treat yourselves.
You can still reward yourself, of course, but incorporating one or more of these tips in your every day life will help you cut back on some excess spending. Whats more, you can take the extra money you’ve saved and put it in a rainy day or savings account and let it build over time.
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