I recently had a conversation with my cousin about budgeting. Now don't misunderstand I am by no means a budgeting guru but I have picked up a few things over the years that have helped our family stay on budget (most of the time).
Here are a few painless tips I gave her to help her family budget better.
:::::First and foremost you need to know WHERE your money is going. Keep a journal and/or spreadsheet outlining all of your spending for a full month. By knowing where it is going you can hopefully make a budget that is more realistic to your lifestyle and therefore not set yourself up for failure.
::::Once you have determined WHERE your money is going, then you can start trimming the fat. You might be surprised where a good portion of your money goes. Fast food trips? Mini mart trips for soda, chips?
::::Sign up for a FREE online budget program such as Mint.com. Here is a link to the top 10 FREE budget programs.
::::Menu Plan. Menu Plan. Menu Plan. I can't say that enough! I Menu Plan weekly. Some Menu Plan monthly. Do whichever works for you and your shopping habits. BUT DO IT! This is the #1 best way that our family stays on budget with our groceries and not eating out.
::::Take stock of your pantry/refridgerator BEFORE you make your Menu Plan and head to the store. AND make sure you bring a list. A written list. Not the one in your head. If you can, order your groceries online for delivery. I have done this and found it kept me on track because less chance for impulse buys.
::::If you work out of your home, PACK YOUR LUNCH! Pack it the night before while making dinner. It can be left overs, a sandwich, piece of fruit, baby carrots. But pack it! Those lunchtime Subway runs ADD up quick.
:::::Make your coffee at home or at work in break room but DO NOT BUY coffee out everyday. Again, this may not seem like a lot to begin with if you are stopping by 7-11 for $1.00 coffee. Heaven help you, if you are getting a Mocha or Latte at Starbucks every day. Every cent counts when you are trying to stay on track.
::::Buy used. I love me a good resale store. The kids have been growing like weeds so anything that I can buy second hand clothes wise, I am all over it. Amoung many other things. Have you heard of thredup? I have used them multiple times and I can say I am impressed.
::::If you want to *indulge* in a night out for dinner, hit a happy hour. We spend 50% less (or more) by going to a happy hour and ordering off the happy hour menu. Plus the items are so cheap, you can get a few items for the price of a normal dinner entree. If fast food, order off the dollar menu rather than the full meal "deals".
::::Stop buying books! Go to the library. Most libraries even have ebooks now that you can download on your ereader. Check it out!
Of course there are many more tips and tricks where these come from but these are just a few that have a quick impact to your bottomline.
What budget tips does your family use in helping make ends meet?
Disclaimer: This is not a paid endorsement for any links or sites I have mentioned. These are my own opinions based on using the services.