Budgets & Saving
My separation and divorce obviously set in motion a tailspin of life changes, not all bad. Going from a dual income household to a single one was a huge change that took me quite some time to figure out, especially since for a good portion of time my monthly mortgage payment was a bit too close to my monthly take home income. Once I was able to refinance, things did get much easier, but I continue to employ a lot of the budgeting and savings techniques in my efforts to get ahead and hopefully be able to pay off my debts in a timely manner.
Here are some of my tips on budgets & saving that kept me from losing my house & having to live in a cardboard box.
– Make a budget that not only includes all the expenses every month, but leaves a little for incidentals like car maintainance and other issues that might crop up.
– Coupons & store sales are your friends, as are generic brands ( as long as they don’t taste like junk, otherwise it’s worth paying $1 more for something).
– Discount stores like the dollar store, Big Lots, and Ocean State Job Lot ( my personal favorite) are awesome resources for non-perishables like soup, pasta, and spices, as well as for cleaning supplies. Almost always these stores carry the same brands ( or better!) than at the market, but most times these are cast offs because the brand logo has changed or some other packaging element.
– The library is your best friend- books, DVDs, magazines. I will always use my local public library for these resources until the day I die.
– Stop email subscriptions to various brands, group coupon sites, and stores that could lure you to spend on unneeded items.
– Cook in batches and freeze food- soup in the freezer is perfect for lunches or dinners and allows you to plan ahead & get the most out of the money you spend at the grocery store. I would even save leftover bits of vegetables or rice, put them in a plastic zippy bag in the freezer, and when I had a good amount, make “leftover soup.”
– My social life hurt for a bit while I figured out my new game plan for money, but I saved a lot by having friends over for wine or dinner and games, and a lot of them reciprocated by inviting me over!
– Even if it’s only a small amount, try to put something into savings. While I was really strapped, I had to stop this in my personal savings account, but I still contributed to my retirement via my paycheck every two weeks.
What are your little tricks to save money and budget?
These are all excellent ideas. Dan and I were able to go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course (courtesy of my job) and it was EXCELLENT. We’ve started doing a budget each month and use cash for everything. That means twice a month, I take out what we need and we rely on only that. No debit cards for us. It’s been awesome to feel like we’ve got our spending somewhat under control.
I don’t really have a budget, but I definitely do some of the things that you suggested to keep a tap on our spending… some of this can actually be fun (like couponing and lowering your grocery bill :))