8 Easy Ways to Stay on Budget
photo by thatsphotography (pixabay)
Budgeting is hard, because life is unpredictable. These tips won’t help you perfectly predict how much money you’ll spend each month, but they will give you easy, repeatable behaviors that will put you in control of your spending! The best part is, you can start using these ideas today to help you stay on budget.
- Use Cash- When you first start budgeting using cash is the easiest way to stay on track. No mental accounting. Use your budget as your guide and only carry the cash you plan on using that day. As you get better about budgeting, use one account for all of your expenses so you can quickly and easily check up on your spending throughout the month.
- Eat the food you already bought- Before you go grocery shopping, check your pantry first and then make a simple meal plan for the next 3-4 days. See if you can avoid going to the grocery store for one more day by eating the random food that accumulates in your pantry. You can pretend you are on Iron Chef!
- Shop with a list- in case you haven’t noticed, retailers spend a lot of time trying to make your shopping experience so easy and enjoyable that you spend more time in the store…and buy more things. Write a list and stick to it.
- Pay attention to your spending- Acknowledge your spending as you spend (but don’t judge). If you slip up a little and make an impulse purchase, acknowledge it but don’t pile on the guilt and don’t give up on your budget.
- Admit mistakes- Make an impulse purchase you now regret? Or buy a household item you already had at home? If the retailer allows it, return the item and get your cash back. It’s usually worth the extra driving to stick to your budget. You’ll feel better, trust me.
- Look for your spending trouble spot- are you hopping on online every couple of days and spending $30? That adds up. But don’t just plan to stop it, select an alternative activity to do when the desire hits to go shopping. For example, acknowledge that you feel like hunting the web for deals but choose to read a book instead.
- Consolidate your shopping trips- Instead of going every week to pick up household items at your favorite big box store, try to go just once or twice a month (with a list). I used to go to the grocery store and Target every week, BUT it turns out I’m a sucker for cute and discounted home goods. Now I only go to Target once or twice a month and buy everything at once. This also saves me time!
8. Pack Snacks- Eating out while driving the kids to soccer and music lessons? Plan ahead, pack sandwiches, drinks, and other healthy snacks. This is good for your budget and good for your health. My favorite tip here is to get a bag of apples wash them and stick them in your car. The apples tend to be a bit smaller but the size is perfect for kids, sweet and healthy!
What are your favorite tips to on how to stick to your budget? Please share them below in the comments!