I’m so excited to be sharing these easy budgeting and money saving tips with you. I’ve started doing these a few months ago and it’s been working for me and my family!
It seems like budgeting is becoming something that more people are striving for. Because let’s face it, money is something we all have, but unless you plan and budget, you have no idea where it goes!
The Budgeting Process
I have started these budgeting processes because my husband and I decided that budgeting is a big part of achieving our short term goals (quality family time, like vacations), and long term goals (being able to prepare for our children’s future).
I understand that not all of these methods will work for you and your family. But I’m hoping that a few of these tips will help you achieve your financial goals.
Track your spending
The first thing that will help you succeed is to track your spending for a month. You can start now, or go back to your bank statements a month and write them down.
The way you track your expenses can be done anyway based on your preference. You can find an app that allows you enter transactions, or do it the old fashioned way and write things down in a notebook or excel sheet.
I know this can be a pain, but this is something you HAVE to do. It will open your eyes and you will be able to do really get an idea of just where your money goes and how much money you may be wasting.
Once you write everything down, you calculate how much you spend on certain categories by adding them up, (I.e, eating out, coffee, gas, groceries). When I first did this, I saw that I was spending almost $300 a month on eating out during lunch breaks or using services like Door Dash or Uber Eats. And it BLEW my mind!!
Here is a sample of my spending for the week. This doesn’t include any bills, this is strictly spending. I feel like this isn’t the best overview of my regular spends, since my grandparents are in town but one thing is clear: Target is my weakness!
Anyways, once you do that, you’ll be able to see the bigger picture of how you spend your money and see if you can cut back accordingly.
Which brings me to my first point: Meal prep as much as you can and make home lunches. I’ve drastically cut down the amount of times I eat out at work. I’ve set a goal for myself of buying lunch once a paycheck (twice a month) and am usually pretty good at obtaining that goal.
I save those “eating out” occassions for lunch with my coworkers or when we want to try something new in the area. In that expense sheet, you will see my “outing with coworkers”; that was the second time I ate out this month. So I will not be eating out lunch for the rest of the month. I know it can be difficult to bring home lunch every day, especially when you see others eating out. But when you break down and analyze how much money is being spent, you’ll definitely think twice.
Get creative. That’s what budgeting is all about! I often use one can of chicken to make a chicken salad but I will switch up a little so that it doesn’t feel redundant to eat the same thing every day. One day I’ll have a chicken sandwhich with chips, and another I’ll have a chicken sandwhich with salad. There are times where I will bring a small container of cooked rice and seaweed strips, and I’ll make my own chicken salad rolls on the spot (and its so good!).
Stop using those food delivery apps
Delete your food delivery apps. I know you have them! Modern technology is great and the convenience is amazing but do yourself a favor and delete them. Save your $5 and if you really need to order food, go pick it up. Think about it, even though you may find a restaurant that offers free delivery for that day, you may encounter a small order fee, service fees, and you’ll have to tip your driver.
I find that in my case, once I deleted the app, I used it less. The need of downloading the app and having to sign in again prevented me from buying food on numerous occasions.
Leave your credit cards at home.
I firmly believe that if you have it on you at all times, you’ll end up using it that much more times. It’s very easy to swipe the card and think “I’ll pay it later” but I want to go out on a limb here and say that, often times it probably doesn’t happen at every purchase.
I know it may feel weird because some of you may say that you will need it for an emergency.
Leave it at a secure spot in your home that you can access it in the event of such.
I know for me it was much more damaging for me to keep my cards in my wallet than at home. So if you can’t pay off your credit card purchases off every month and bring your balance back to $0, my suggestion would be to not carry it in your wallet.
If it freaks you out to not have it on you, do it week by week and see how you do.
Thinking twice before buying
When you are making a purchase, whether it be something you’ve been thinking about for awhile, or something you saw while window shopping, ask yourself: Do I really need it?
Waiting a few days before making the purchase might make you re-analyze if your item is in your budget. I do a lot of online shopping. What I tend to do is put a bunch of items in my cart and not buy it right away. In a few days, I may come back to it and decide I don’t need certain items.
Do not be tempted to buy what you want instantly! We are in an instant gratification type of world. However, it may surprise you that waiting on purchases just a day or two may have you thinking twice on whether certain items should fall into the “I need to have it now” category.
Use a Pick-Up service
One of the plus sides to technology is how convenient certain things is (when there are no added fees involved). I frequent Target on a weekly basis (isn’t that already obvious). I am completely guilty of spending way more money than I intend to every single time. Target is literally the best but I know you moms know that it’s so dangerous and you can easily go overboard.
They now offer a service called Drive Up. And its amazing! You need the Target app to use it, but it’s really simple. You find the items you need, pay for it on the app, and choose Drive UP for your shipment method (instead of Pick up in store or shipping it to your house).
Here is what it looks like on my Target app:
I find that the times I’ve used this, it prevents me from buying things that I don’t need. I don’t have the slightest chance to walk through the aisles and find something cute that I wasn’t planning to buy originally. And that’s always a good thing. Because when you do a Target run, you usually go in for necessities like bread and toilet paper, but then come out with Oreos, a Starbucks coffee, a new throw pillow, and an LOL Suprise Doll.
However, please note that not ALL items are elligible for pick up, but if the items that you need are, try it out. You won’t regret it.
Unsubscribing from marketing emails
I found that a lot of the marketing emails that I have are from initial sign-ups that I had done to get a certain discount. But then I kept getting emails with words like “last chance”, or “get them while you still can” to hook you into thinking that you are missing out if you don’t participate in a certain sale.
Let me tell you. There will always be a another sale. Unless it’s a really good deal (Black Friday ad), you won’t be missing out on much. I’ve watched certain stores (Carters and Old Navy is where I usually buy my kid’s clothing) and usually right after one sale is done, another one starts. So do yourself a favor, and unsubscribe, now.
Analyze your recurring costs.
There are probably some subscriptions that you forgot you had, or don’t need. List everything down that comes out of your account on a monthly basis that isn’t an expense and look it over. If you’re hardly home, do you really need cable? Or will having a more cost effective streaming program like Hulu suffice?
Additionally, check your cell phone service provider, and see what your monthly usage is. Can you downgrade? Also, a lot of phone service providers offer company related discounts. See if the company you work for is in their system for a discount. We are with AT&T and we get a small discount off our bill each month from my husbands employer. Even a little discount is more money in your pocket.
Planned budgeting: Save for your big expenses throughout the year
After buying a house a few years ago, I’ve realized that you need to plan better by budgeting for bigger expenses. Christmas, car registration fees, and HOA dues are some examples of the things that I have started saving for before they are actually due.
I recently started following The Budget Mom; in fact she is the very one that inspired me to start being more mindful of my money! Although I don’t use her cash envelope method for daily spending, I do use them for saving.
To put this in perspective, Nevada calculates car registration based on the value of your car. Because I have a 2019, my registration last year was almost $600! That is an expense that I would normally have to pull of my savings to pay for.
But I now have a cash envelope savings for it that I put money in each paycheck. I already have $100 in there as of now. So when it’s time to pay it, I won’t have to feel the pains of pulling that out of my savings account.
It’s amazing how quickly time flies and these expenses can come up quickly. It’s a good feeling to know that I won’t have to worry about big expenses because now I budget for both planned and unplanned expenses.
Keep a separate savings account
When I first started budgeting, I noticed that putting most of my savings in my main account that was linked to my checking didn’t get me anywhere. Far too often, I found myself too often “borrowing” from my savings for something and putting it back and my money would basically be doing the Cupid Shuffle between accounts.
Consequently, my husband and I now have our main savings at a small credit union and that money in there, we rarely touch. We have an ATM card for it (that we don’t carry out with us) should we need to access it in an emergency. Aside from putting money in there each paycheck, we put extra money not normally received monthly (tax returns, escrow checks) in there and a lot of times we forget we have it (which is good)!
Trust me, it’s all a visual thing. Try it out and see how it works for you.
Set small goals and be realistic with budgeting
If I learned anything about being smarter about my money, it’s that you can’t jump before walking. Take baby steps and be realistic about ways to budget based on your life style.
Find ways to have fun without spending money. If you have kids, I have a list of fun things you can do that don’t cost anything.
See if you can challenge yourself to bring home lunch to work more often if you already do. If you’re going to an event, give yourself a limit on the amount of money you’re going to spend.
Budgeting and being smart about your money choices is a lifestyle. It requires a lot of effort and willpower.
Remember: do not compare your life circumstances to others! Remember that everyone’s situation is different, and you know what will work for you and your family.
I hope that this post helped you in some way. If you enjoyed reading this, here are some other reads you might like:
- Best toys for babies (6 months – 1 year)
- How to have a work life balance with kids
- How to afford your dream wedding
What are some budgeting tips that you recommend? I’m always eager to hear other ideas, please share below! Scroll down below and enter your email address for more tips and mama experiences! Thank you for reading, XOXO!