Mindful money practises

In our effort to impress everyone else, we create trouble for ourselves when we shell out for things with money we don’t have

Fotolia_63004812-350x308It seems like it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to hold onto their hard-earned money. Sure, you may have a retirement plan and a savings account that you contribute to on a regular basis, but if the rest of your income is disappearing too quickly, you may be being a bit spendthrift with the contents of your wallet. In other words, it’s time to identify and cut back on expenses that are depleting your income.

Certain things are necessities in life. Your housing payment, groceries and those monthly utility bills are things you definitely need to take care of. Some things are nice to have, but can be toned down a bit so they don’t suck you dry. An extravagant wedding or a pricey vacation should not be at the top of your budget. Once you identify potential pitfalls, you can successfully combat the money wasters and take back your finances. Here are a couple of budget-blowers and some ideas on how to still enjoy them, for a lot less.

Wedding woes

The wedding of your dreams may include a horse-drawn carriage, a lengha designed by Tarun Tahiliani, a massive guest list and a limitless buffet, among other luxuries. You might want to have pyrotechnics and dancers at every ceremony, but if you can only afford the venue, then it’s time to face reality.

Though it’s the most logical step, many people want to go all out and refuse to chart their expenses. So first and foremost, you should create a wedding budget [www.realsimple.com/weddings/budget/wedding-budget-worksheet]. You can create a worksheet that helps you successfully track your numbers. Figure out what you can reasonably afford in each category, like flowers, food, music and anything else. You may find that you end up with a bigger number than you are comfortable with.

From this point, it should be easier to figure out how to cut corners without having too big an effect on the big day. Replace pricey orchids with seasonable and easy-to-find flowers, tone down the menu and buy the less expensive fireworks. Consider trimming your guest list to the most important people in your life. After all, you need to question why you want to have the wedding of the century. If it’s to impress other people, you might want to reconsider, because however much you spend, you will always have special memories of that day.

Housing hassles

It seems like first-time homebuyers easily get stars in their eyes. You want your dream home and you want it now. In order to get it, you should go for homes listed at the top of your price list, right? Wrong. Often, people fail to consider that on top of paying for the house, you will have monthly bills like electricity, phone and others, food to buy and unexpected expenses that could always crop up. You don’t want to find yourself stretched too thin and struggling to make ends meet just because you went for that expensive home. Keep an open mind and try looking for homes that are a bit less than your budget, so this way you’ll have money that you can save.

Also there are certain things you should not skimp on when home buying, such as property inspections, so you’re sure that you will not end up with a house could be draining you of your money.

Travel trip-ups

You’re planning your annual vacation, and you have dreams of faraway places and lengthy stays. You reason that vacation time only comes once a year, so you might as well make it big. That is true, but you don’t have to go all out to have a great time. In fact, many people find that simply planning a vacation is almost as much fun as actually being there [but you don’t have to be that miserly either].

You can always tone down your vacation dreams from something too extravagant to something a bit more down-to-earth. If you want a beach vacation, plan a trip to a place you can drive to instead of blowing your vacation funds on costly plane tickets. No matter where you go, you will reap the benefits that vacations bring, such as an improved mood, stress relief and happiness.

Of course, if you are set on seeing the sites of Paris, France, you shouldn’t trade it by going to Pondicherry to see the French architecture there. By all means, go. Before you do, however, make sure you compare prices and take advantage of deals on discount travel websites. When you are there, buy a baguette and gourmet cheese at a local market to enjoy an inexpensive lunch at a park instead of a posh restaurant. With the right mindset, anything can be fun.

Education errors

It seems like getting a fancy degree is essential in today’s competitive market in order to land your ideal job. But obtaining that degree can turn out to be an expensive proposition. If attending a four-year university program abroad is out of your price range, find out if there is any university in India that offers the equivalent of that degree or a course that will cover the same subjects you want to learn.

In some countries you can also obtain an associate’s degree with credits you can later transfer to another school, when you feel more capable of spending the money. Of course, online programs are also an option. There are plenty of online institutions that can grant you a degree, from the comfort of your own home and schedule.

There are some things to beware of, before enrolling make sure the school has proper accreditation. You don’t want to spend money pursuing a degree that’s worthless and will be a huge waste of your time and money. Use common sense and do your homework before committing to any program whether or not you have doubts about the institution.

These tips will help you eliminate wasteful spending while still allowing you to enjoy the finer things in life. By making the most of your money, you can live life to the fullest.

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