Relax. We’ve got four tips to help you decide how much to allocate for typical budget items, including the occasional coffee house run.
Start by tracking your expenses for a month. Write down every dime you spend and every dime you earn. If you buy a pack of gum, write it down. If you’ve got a savings account, find out how much interest you earned. Next, break your income into a classic 50-30-20 budget formula. That means you should plan on spending about 50% of your income on the things you need; 30% on the things you want; and putting about 20% into savings.
After that, try conducting these four reality checks to determine if your budget is realistic.
1) A family of four spends about $1,055 a month on groceries in Toronto. How much do you spend? If it’s more, then you should look at how much food you throw away each week. Or maybe you can try some low-priced store brands instead of high-priced national brands. Eat a snack or meal before you go to the store. The snack aisles are most tempting when you’re hungry. Make a weekly meal plan. Write out a list, and stick to it. You’ll spend less on grocery day and waste less food throughout the week. Finally, leave the kids at home. They distract you and ask for treats.
2) Another reality check is to examine how much you spend in restaurants. You know it’s cheaper and healthier to make food at home. Buying a $10 lunch just three times a week adds up to $120 a month. Getting take-out for dinner just three times a month adds up to $60. And that’s for a single person. If you’re ordering for a family, you’ll have to multiply that number. Reducing those expenses helps your wallet and your waistline.
3) Are you a member of a gym? When is the last time you went? In Toronto, monthly gym memberships range from $15 for a basic gym package to $70 for a gym with more perks. Yoga and Pilates classes run about $115 a month. If you joined a gym as a New Year’s resolution, but aren’t using it now, that’s a costly resolution.
4) How many streaming services do you subscribe to? During the COVID-19 crisis, streaming consumption has risen. But do you need to continue to subscribe to them all? Netflix is $13.99 a month. Apple TV+ is $5.99 a month. Disney+ is $8.99 a month. Apple Music/Spotify is costing you $9.99 a month. Each one alone seems like a deal, but add them all up and you’re spending almost $60 a month. That’s more than $700 each year. Can you eliminate one service? You’ll still have entertainment, but you’ll also have more money to save for a vacation.
Implementing these budget changes doesn’t eliminate fun. You can still go out to eat, just less frequently. You can subscribe to streaming services, just not as many. Being more mindful of your grocery shopping habits saves both time and money.
Only 47% of Canadians plan out a family budget, but 90% of us say we have more debt today than 5 years ago. Creating and following a simple budget is an effective way to find the money to both reduce your debt and add to your savings.
Cleve DeSouza is a leading mortgage professional in affiliation with Matrix Mortgage Global (Lic#11108) and a seasoned real estate investor with over 10 years of experience.
He has assessed over 200 deals totaling in excess of 25 million dollars. He has a proven track record of ingeniously structuring single-family, multifamily, student homes and commercial assets. Owing to his engineering and dynamic project management background, he has consistently applied critical thinking and creativity to bring each deal to success in a timely and efficient manner. Find him at www.clevedoesmore.com.