With the drought in California, crop losses in Florida and the Midwest and crop losses in South America there is no doubt food prices are going to go up and maybe in a big way. Can your budget afford another hit? Now is the time to continue to work on your food storage (check out the Totally Ready Facebook page for help) and to get a grip on your budget.
If you’ve created a budget, you know exactly how much money you have coming in, and how much is available to spend. If you don’t have a budget plan, you probably don’t have a very good grasp on your real financial situation. Creating a budget can be frustrating but staying on budget can be even harder. Once you’ve created your budget, it’s important to stick to it. I’m hoping you have developed a budget so following are a few tips for how to stick with it.
Every budget should also include a savings plan. If you are not currently saving now is the time. Now stick to it!
- Pay yourself first. Start each month by setting aside a small amount of money in a savings account. If possible set up automatic deductions from your paycheck to make paying yourself easier. If your income is not consistent cash your check at the bank and deposit your savings immediately. Once you have savings accumulated consider a mutual fund, which pays greater dividends.
- Think cash. Determine your expenses for the week, groceries, a birthday gift, gas, and lunch money for the kids, and take out the appropriate amount of cash. Decide now that when that cash is gone it’s time to stop making purchases. If you have cash left at the end of that pay period save it in a safe place and use it to splurge!
- If you don’t want to carry cash use a prepaid debit card. This is an easy way to keep track of your spending since you can access your transactions online. You can load the card with the amount you have budgeted to spend that month and when it’s gone your spending is done. Be careful, as these cards can be expensive so shop around for one that doesn’t have added charges.
- Give up your habits. Give up that candy bar, do your own nails, or forget lunch at a caf, instead bring a yummy meal, one you prepare at home. Consider this, Next time you are tempted to indulge stop and think about what that money could purchase at the end of the year. With the money you save by making a lunch you could pay off a credit card debt and then you would save all that credit card interest.
- Find a buddy. Hopefully you and your spouse and kids are all working toward the same savings and debt reduction goal but having a friend who is also trying to reach that same goal will give you the needed support when you waiver. Let’s face it competition is a great motivator, you wouldn’t want your friend to be able to afford that Disney trip while you sit home regretting those crummy choices you made when you broke down and made a foolish purchase.
- Remind yourself of your goals daily. If your goal is to pay off debt tape a picture of a credit card with a big slash through it on the fridge. Put a sticky note in your wallet so every time you are tempted to spend you see your reminder.
- Splurge. Make a list of small inexpensive things you can indulge in if you stick to your budget. Purchase your favorite bakery treat, take your honey to a matinee, or buy a new shirt, at the discount store of course.
- Think swap meet. We all have things we don’t need and so do all our friends. Make it a tradition to get together with friends and trade things you no longer need. When you have play dates or other opportunities to get together bring items you are willing to part with so others can use them. What a great way to get a new look or a toy to use as a birthday gift for one of the kids. Make it a game and have fun trading!
- Stick to your grocery list, better yet build your General Store and only purchase food and toiletries when they are on sale. Remember everything goes on sale every 10-12 weeks. This one thing, purchasing only items on sale, can really, really save big money. Of course we all know the rule, never shop when you are hungry and always shop with a list!
- Keep your receipts, or record purchases and total them at the end of each day. Always round up to the nearest dollar when recording your purchases. You will be amazed how much this can help keep you on track. It is embarrassing to admit, even to yourself, that you have made an unnecessary purchase. At the end of the month you will have become more aware of your habits and your weaknesses. This will also help you to determine where you’re spending too much or even too little.
- Pack a brown bag lunch each day for yourself and for the kids. These meals can still be fun and your kids may be surprised how jealous other kids are of their lunch. I know one mom who packs a joke of the day in each lunch. Another mom cuts sandwiches into fun shapes. Make your own lunch-able meals or pocket sandwiches. For adults send leftovers. These may take a little time but they will save you a lot of money.
- Talk yourself out of purchases. Ask yourself, do I need this? Think of ways you can avoid a purchase that seems necessary.
- Make shopping a game. You don’t need that Fifty-dollar shirt when there’s a great one waiting at a discount or thrift store. Have you discovered oops paint? Every major home improvement center has paint that has been mixed incorrectly and is sold for a fraction of the original cost. I painted my guest bathroom for $5.00. The color was not my original choice but I knew it would work and I love it! A light color oops paint can also be re-mixed to another color for a small charge, much less that purchasing a new can.
- Shop with a friend who is an amazing shopper. You can learn a lot from someone who has already learned to shop within a budget. You may be surprised who that person is among your friends, often it is the person who is the best dressed and has the perfectly decorated home.
- Leave your credit card at home. Enough said.
- If you must use a credit card go home, write a check for the amount and pay if off immediately. Can’t write that check? Then you can’t afford the purchase. You and your spouse should carry the same card making tracking of purchases easier.
- Sleep on it. Give yourself a night or two, or three, to consider before you make a purchase.
- Review your budget regularly.
- Make saving fun. Be creative and set small goals. When you reach a goal do a happy dance for the family, call a friend and brag or just take a long bath.
- Forgive yourself. There may be times you go over your budget. Get over it quickly. Move on, chalk it up to the weather and move forward committing to do better tomorrow.
Please like Carolyn’s Totally Ready Facebook page today. To subscribe to the Totally Ready Newsletter visit https://blog.totallyready.com/announcing-the-totally-ready-newsletter/ Contact Carolyn at: [email protected]