Budgets don’t have to be boring—or even keep you from doing what you love. There are many ways to earn well, travel, and dress like a million bucks without dropping a big bunch of cash.
You probably know this, but just in case, the basics of a budget are to know your bills are being paid and how much money you left over to spend on things like food, fuel, and fun. There are many different budgeting styles, but no matter what you choose, make sure you’ve accounted for monthly expenses (rent/mortgage, gas, groceries, etc.), funds to pay off debt (school loans, credit cards, etc.), and a little left over for fun!
That’s where we come in. We teamed up with U.S. Bank, who has launched their U.S. Bank Access Commitment™, a set of programs and initiatives dedicated to supporting Black communities in building wealth, to help you start living your best life (on a budget!) with these top five tips.
Tip #1: Go Gourmet at Home
We know you love your daily latte, but at $3+ each, your barista is blowing your budget. Invest in a fancy coffee maker you can use at home—yes, there is an upfront cost but it will pay off faster than you think. Afterall, 30 days of $3 coffees is already $90! And you’ll be able to make your own customized, delicious drink order daily!
Tip #2: Work Out Outside
Take advantage of the world outside your door and work out for free. Go for a run, walk, hike or swim—pretty sure the scenery outside is better than the view at the local gym. And if you live in a cool climate and need to work out inside during the wintertime January is the perfect time to join up for a few months thanks to all the new year’s promos.
Tip #3: Travel in Style
There are many ways to save for a trip. One is to make sure your credit card features a reward system, so you can be earning your next vacation every time you fill up with gas or buy groceries. Now that we have that squared away, think about the way you travel. Try a shorter trip instead of a long vacation—an extended weekend or even a 5-day trip will be less money, make it easier to step away from work, and provide the same enjoyment. And you might also want to try a rental home vs. a hotel—sometimes you can get better amenities at a better price, and you have the place to yourself. And finally, check out all the discount travel sites, you never know what deals await you!
Tip #4: Eat Really Well
Local farmer’s markets are a great way to save money, but feel like you’re splurging. You’ll get the best prices by stocking up on what’s in season and if you shop at the end of the day you may find that farmers are more likely to offer discounts. And if you’re dying to try that hot new restaurant in your neighborhood, why not go for lunch? Prices are typically lower in the middle of the day than they are at the height of the dinner rush, but the food is just as delicious. And lastly, if there is a place you frequent, see if they have a rewards program there too. Some places allow you to earn points toward free apps, drinks, and desserts.
Tip #5: Get A Luxe Look
If you love designer items like handbags, dresses, and shoes, why not rent them online rather than buying them outright? Rental sites usually offer weekly and monthly rates that cost only a fraction of the sticker price, plus it gives you the flexibility to upgrade to new styles each season without additional costs. And if you really must own it, score designer clothes and accessories at budget-friendly rates by buying them used at vintage stores. Or you can gather your most fashionable friends and host a high-end clothing swap—everyone will walk away with something new that they absolutely love at no cost.
BONUS TIP: Make Money with Your Bank Account
We all need someplace to put our money, but what if your account could also be making you money too? Many banks have checking account that earn you interest and provide rewards like U.S. Bank’s Smartly Checking account. So why not take advantage, your money might as well be working as hard as you do!