I wanted to share my tips and tricks for whipping your budget into shape!
- Homemade Food
- Meal Plan and Shop Your Pantry – I cannot stress how much this SAVES you budget! When my husband and I really started cracking down on our budget, this was our kryptonite. We didn’t have a dishwasher in our rental (I can’t tell you how much I hate doing the dishes), and at the time it was just the two of us, so we went out to eat quite a bit. Well, eating out adds up quickly. When we sat down at the end of the month and looked at where we went over budget, it was consistently the restaurant category. I know you’re probably thinking, “Okay, but groceries are expensive, too. Won’t that go up and replace the restaurant budget?” I’ll let you in on a tip I discovered and helps you save money: shop your pantry! I created these handy dandy inventory sheets that you can download on the free printable page! When you use what you already have, you don’t have to spend as much at the grocery store.
- Save on Baby Food – Another tip I want to let you in on: make your own baby food! I cannot tell you how much money this saved us. Baby food packets (if you want organic) run for $1.40 on average for one packet. Whereas you can buy a bag of whole carrots for a dollar or two more and make EIGHT (or so) packets-worth of baby food!! If you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to make baby food.” I understand. My advice is to take one day and make a bunch of different varieties at once. I usually did all my batches on Sunday after church while my husband watched our baby. If you want more info on this, I’ll write up a post about it!
- Budget Meetings – Get with your hubby or wifey and go through your budget together so there are no surprises and arguments. You’ll thank me later.
- Write it Down – One thing I had to learn about my personality is that if I didn’t record what I spent in the budget app right after I went to the store, I would forget and then the expenses would pile up. I’m still working on this one, but it’s nice to not hound each other trying to figure out certain transactions on your account you forgot about.
- Fun Money – This is the best category you could have in your budget that will save you from money fights. You’re welcome. My husband and I each have a certain amount of money each month that we get to spend whatever we want with. If you try this method, you will have to find out what works best for your budget and family. It’s so freeing that I know how much I have to spend on makeup and clothes, for example. Yes, I said freeing. This category gives you permission to say yes to things you want, and vice versa for your hubby! Think of it as a monthly shopping spree.
- The Word “No”
- Just Say No – This tip is probably the hardest one to actually put into practice. I even have a hard time with this one still! Sometimes, you just have to say, “No.” No more getting loans. No more financing things on credit cards. No more going into debt!
- Stop the Impulsive Buying – Again, this was me. When I wasn’t living on a budget, I saw that cute top at the mall and bought it without even knowing how much was in my bank account. I was constantly going into the red at the end of the month. Now, when I want that cute top, I wait. I ask myself these questions, “Do I really need this?” “Do I want to spend my money on this right now, or do I want something bigger later?” If in a few days I still want that top, I’ll get it. I also believe the fun money budget category helps with this as well. When you know how much you get every month, it’ll save you from overspending. Do you really want that dress that’s $150 and you only get $100 each month to spend as your budget allows? Wait until next month and save that money this month. I know it’s hard. You can do it!
There you have it! These are my tips that I used and still use today to keep tugging along and keeping our family financially fit. What are your tips? I’d love to hear yours in the comments below!
“Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge. What to do isn’t the problem; doing it is. Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it. If I can control the guy in the mirror, I can be skinny and rich.”The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
― Dave Ramsey