Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Maintaining a Budget

Maintaining a budget isn't something we want to do, but it is something we HAVE to do. A budget is extremely important as it helps us get by while getting things we need. Here's a few helpful hints when budgeting and managing household money:

Make a meal plan then a grocery list
Planning your meals out in advance is not only a great way to budget but there is no thinking around when your at the store or making multiple trips. You have your food for the week (or every two) and your done. Prepare them as you wish, but at least they are there.

Keep track of your bills (when they are due and how much)
On bills you have the option to sometimes budget in advance and put money up for them. Especially if they are bills you know you are going to have anyway such as cable, internet, phone, rent, etc.

Keep track of spending
This part can be a little tedious for some (it is for me) but keeping track of what you spend is a huge help on determining where your money is going. I know your probably saying "I know where my money goes" chances are you may not be 100%. Even if your spending it we don't notice that a little here and there can add up to a lot in the end. Keep track of gasoline, grocery spending, out to eat costs, bills, etc. Once you find out where all your money is going you may realize places you can make cuts. 

Prepare your meals
Preparing meals for your family is a huge money saver. You get more with less (and better for everyone also since you know what is going in your food and how it is being prepared). There are so many inexpensive meals that you can make yourself, and by cooking you are getting more for less. Cooking chicken for a family of four with a couple sides is generally cheaper than going to a restaurant and ordering four plates of this or that. And it's healthier for you too.

Explore Generics
If you remember our post awhile back where we compared name brand to store brand this tip will kind of go along with that. Obviously there are some products where the name brand is just better and there's no way around it. However there are a lot of hidden gems in the store brands that you wouldn't even realize. You just have to try them out to find out. At least in the end you know. Buying store brands often saves a lot of money, as I said before a little here and there adds up to quite a bit in the end.

Use coupons and pay attention to sales ads
This one is extremely important. Using coupons can be hassle sometimes especially if you don't have the time to sit and cut them out, organize them, etc. But coupons can save a lot of money. For a quick example: at our last shopping trip I had five coupons for various products. Not many but in total we saved a total of $12.00 in coupons alone. Not including things we got on sale advertised in the store ad.
By paying attention to store ads there are always certain things that are on good deals. It may be something you really like, it may even be a luxury item that you don't necessarily have to have but because it's on sale this time it will fit the budget.
Tip: I often plan our meals AFTER looking at a sales ad. This helps let me know what is on sale and saves money on our shopping trip. On the weeks I do this we are often able to get a few little extras that we couldn't have otherwise fit into the budget.

Research the best prices
You may have a favorite grocery store. You may say you don't need to go to any other store when everything you need is all right there. Why waste the time and energy going to yet another place? Well the answer is simple: you will be saving money.
We usually go to three different stores. Seems like a lot I know, but in reality there have been weeks where we have saved a total of forty or fifty dollars (sometimes more than that when we add up the total savings). It definitely pays for gas to go to those places and we still profit. It's a win win. Paying close attention to normal store prices, researching a bit, paying attention to various ads, and making a detailed grocery list are huge helpers in this.

So if you are tight on money (most of us are these days) there are always ways to cut corners. I could go on and on about ways to save money but I will stop lecturing now. I gave a few good examples and trust me if you keep to them you will see a difference. We for sure do. 

Happy Saving! :)

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