How To Have More Wiggle Room in Your Budget

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One of the benefits of being debt free is obviously having more cash on hand each month to do other things with as opposed to paying creditors. We prefer having the extra cash now to build wealth, save for college for our three children and even save us more money when shopping. Let me explain. Once we became organized with our money we began to shop with a list, clip coupons, and compare prices. We still do this today. Just recently we opted for a 12 pack of ice tea our daughter asked for at a price point of $9.99 over the six-pack at a price of $5.79. That was a $1.58 savings, having the wiggle room in our budget allowed us to purchase the 12 pack and save the additional money.

We now take this a step further when shopping for food and personal items we regularly use. I wear contact lenses, and regularly need content lenses solution to clean and store my lenses. I always purchase a two pack of the solution when I running low and need more with a typical cost around $21 when on sale I can find it for $16, a $5 saving. Since I can’t predict when I will run low and need to purchase more. I can’t guarantee myself that the solution will be on sale at that exact time I need it. So now I simply purchase 2 or 3 at the time of the sale saving an extra $5 or $10. Again I only have that ability now that we are debt free and have the surpluses of cash in our budget to take advantage of the sale. Repeating this behavior over time can save you a bunch of money. In the two recent examples, we saved $11.58 on things we were going to purchase anyway, just now at different quantities.

wiggle room

Buyers Edge

One of the other ways we are now saving money while shopping is with a rewards credit card. Technically we are not saving any money by using the card, but we are earning money in the form of cash back rewards. Our rule is simple for the use of the card, we must have the cash on hand to pay for the item in full if we plan on using the card for any purchase. We did this over the Holidays and our first rewards check was $48. Not bad for money we had already planned on spending and had budgeted. We recently took this a step further. We were in the market for a new oven. We found one we like and it had a price tag of $900. I wasn’t willing to pay that much for the oven and remember reading a post over at EOD about asking for a discount.

That prompted me to do a little more homework. I found that my company was part of a Buyer’s Edge program and according to their member list there are 90 or so other companies in the tri-state area that use them too. What’s Buyers Edge you ask, it’s a consumer buying service that guarantees the lowest prices on most major purchases. So I took the model number of the oven we were interested in and got a price. The oven through Buyer’s Edge was $635 or 29% cheaper than retail. Boom! Now pay for it on our cash rewards credit card and we are looking at a $12 reward. Double boom!

Now if we were still in debt we wouldn’t be in the market for a new oven or swiping a credit card, but after working hard to clean up the mess we have the wiggle room within our budget to take advantage of these deals and offers presented to us.

I think this is only the beginning for us, travel hackers have been doing these kinds of things for years, making the system work to their advantage to travel for free or next to no cost. A view it as sort of challenge now, how cheap can I purchase something for or how to change I maximize my rewards. This flexibility is all given to us by cleaning up the mess first and reaching the point of being debt free but staying focused to still remain organized and spend within our means.

I realize not everyone may have an opportunity like Buyer’s Edge program available to them, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeking the best deal or lowest prices when shopping for any item. There are so many ways to compare prices via the internet, smartphone apps, etc. These tools can very easily help you gain a consumer edge if you invest the time.

If you are debt free do you find it gives you more flexibility in saving money? If so how?

What would you do with a little wiggle room in your current budget?

12 thoughts on “How To Have More Wiggle Room in Your Budget”

  1. We have a small mortgage, but that’s it. We have a lot of wiggle room in our budget! We try to leave ourselves with enough room to live a full, meaningful life, but not leave so much room that we are wasting extra money every month just because we have it. It is helpful for me to transfer funds to savings and investments at the beginning of the month- that way we work with what is left and stick to our zero-sum budget.

  2. This is such a great point! If your budget isn’t super super tight you can actually buy in bulk when items are on sale. I remember when we were getting on track with our budget I would buy paper towels at the grocery store for $1 a roll. Now, we buy them at Costco (same price…15 rolls for $15) but I feel like we never have to buy paper towels whereas before I was buying them every few days! (Costco’s quality is better too.) It’s nice having extra room in the budget to stock up on items!

  3. We still have a mortgage, but are consumer debt free. Our budget has the wiggle room to take advantage of good deals when we find them. The trick for us is to get the deal, then not use the savings to buy more stuff. Or if we do, to pick out the yummiest stuff at least!

  4. If I had more wiggle room in the budget, I would invest more. We actually cut back in a lot of areas over the last two years, so our budget is good, but I invested in my company, so I haven’t been as invested as I would like in the markets.

    • Just increased my retirement savings this week, so I understand Shannon. Tough to find that balance when trying to grow a business.

  5. Isn’t that wiggle room great? We are seeing some now, even though the debt isn’t gone yet. It’s SO nice to be able to take advantage of sales, etc., knowing that you’re paying with cash and not going further into debt. What a relief!

  6. I’m still working to pay off my student loans, but I like to motivate myself by thinking about what I could do with the extra money if I wasn’t paying back debt. I would invest more and probably take more risks with my career, as well as travel. The anticipation of that wiggle room keeps me going!

  7. Cash flow is king! You are right, stocking up (within reason) can really help boost the budget. Having some money set aside really helps reduce stressing over the little emergencies that crop up. I think lots of people get caught by surprises and if they don’t have something set aside, they need to borrow and it can start and downward spiral. I dream of the day we are completely debt free.

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