Budgeting... Before The Well Runs Dry!

Keeping Money Where It Belongs

We keep hearing how much the economy is changing and how much we have to conserve in these times... let's get real! It is never too late nor too early to learn how to live on a budget. Granted this is much easier to do if you live alone but it can be done. Just because you have a two income household does not mean that life will be easier. When there is more than one adult in charge of the finances ANYTHING can go wrong. Here are some ways to keep a tight knot on the way you spend, save, and splurge.

1) Keep a clean and organized home. (Doesn't make sense yet?) If you live in a disaster area, chances are you will be disorganized with bills, utilities such as water, electricity when it comes to washing clothes, and all sorts of things.

  • Designate an area in your house where you: keep the bills, pay the bills, and all other important paperwork. If you do this, it will be easier to keep track of when your bill is lower as adverse to when you get a shut off notice. Paying half of a $100.00 bill is much easier than begging the utilities to do a payment arrangement on a $500.00 bill.
  • In addition, do laundry as soon as you get a full load. Don't wait until laundry piles up having to spend an entire day making up for the fact that you have no socks left. Remember it is much more expensive to wash and dry larger loads of laundry.
  • Don't be afraid to do a smaller load when you are able. The less water the better!
    Also keep in mind that things get lost in a cluttered environment. Because of this, people tend to buy more thinking they need to replace something that they merely lost.

2) Stop buying name brand food and household products. Get away from thinking that the name brand tastes better. This is all in your head. Don't believe me? Turn those packages around and look at the ingredients... most of the time they are exactly same. When in the store you will notice little lables on products that say things such as, "Compare with..." This means it's the same or nearly the same product just without the fancy label. I mean, afterall that is what you are paying for! Don't get me wrong, there are many things that are different such as dish soap. Some things don't quite do the job right the first time around but if you learn to save money on the other things, you can go ahead and splurge a little on the more expensive stuff every now and then.
Many cities have discount stores that sell food at a discount, it doesn't make you cheap to shop here, it makes you smart. To fill up your cart in a large supermarket you can plan on spending well over $100.00 and not have much to show for it. Discount stores help take off a large chunk of this cost. You'll be surprised at the treasures you find there.

3) Utilize your local Farmers and Flea Market. In many areas you can get produce, meat, plants, house hold items, clothes and thousands of other things. Fruits and Vegetables are MUCH cheaper than your local store. You may have the money to buy all of these things top of the line, but how lovely is it to see your dollar go much farther?! Many times there are reprutable businesses that set up at these markets as well. This is one of the BEST ways to catch a bargain. You can find jewelers who have large storefronts, bakeries, butchers, florists etc.

4) Committ to putting a certain amount of money away every paycheck. Come to a common agreement with your partner to find a comfortable percentage and if possible have your check direct deposited accordingly into different accounts.

  • For instance, you can decide to deposit 35% into savings and 65% into checking. The savings you should allow to build up and the checking should be reserved for what you pay bills out of.
  • Another great idea is opening a spending money/entertainment account. Deposit a certain a each check and keep yourself on a budget when it comes to dinners, movies, chuck e cheese etc... If you have saved up $50.00 this week, commit to not spending more than that. No time to open an account? Most banks will let you open an account online and transfer your opening balance from another account.

5) Visit your local meat fish or poultry market. Buying your meats in a supermarket can mean walking out with very little meats. Make calls to your local butchers and poultry wholesale places that sell to the general public and ask them if they offer freezer packages. A freezer pack is a variety of meats and such as chicken, steaks, ground beef, etc... The cost savings is well worth it. Keep in mind to try finding a local poultry place as well. Poultry can be quite expensive if you are not careful. Buying your foods in these places can ensure that you have plenty of food stored up which means less trips to the grocery store, and also helps avoid being forced to buy things that are not on sale.

6) Stop opening the yellow pages! This doesn't mean never use the directory, but more often than not, you can find just about everything you need online where people are willing to negotiate, barter and practically give things away! Online sites such as craigslist and yahoo's freecycle are gold mines!!! Contractors are especially known for advertising on craigslist. You could save yourself a bundle this way!!! Stop paying full price for products and services. The small time contractor may be $1000.00 cheaper to replace your fence and might possiby do a better job too! Did your lawnmower just die? Someone may have sold their home and moved into an apartment where they no longer need theirs even though it's practically new. As always you have to remember to be smart when buying things from individuals. Never buy something without checking to see that it is in good working condition. Buyer Beware!

7) Check your online and local papers for discount activities for the family. Often times you will find deals just by looking. A day out with a family of 4 does not have to be expensive anymore. You can also plan fun activities for the kids that they will remember when they get older. Try planning a family picnic with activities, and games. How memorable would it be to look back at the laughs and the photos in the later years?!

8) Don't be afraid of your local dollar store! Many things are completely over priced in your regular retail store but you can find them for a steal in the dollar store. From food to office supplies and car chargers to stocking stuffers you can't go wrong!

9) Don't live beyond your means. If you can't afford a Mercedes and pay all of your bills at the end of the month, maybe a Civic is more your style. Contrary to popular belief, the car doesn't make the person nor determine one's status. There are many famous people driving and buying things that they can't really afford. Try to always be well into the positive at the end of each month so that you always have enough to put away in savings.

10) Getting a promotion doesn't mean it's time to buy a bigger house, bigger wardrobe, and a new car. Think of that as money you didn't have which will allow you to save more in the end.

Why Can't I Save Money?

Why do you find it harder to save money?

  • I don't have a plan on how to.
  • I don't have time... I can barely keep my bills together
  • I don't know what happens to my money. I seem to make enough to pay my bills but never have enough left over to save.
  • I'm an impulse shopper
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