Making a budget and sticking to it can be hard at times. It takes willpower, goals, a vision for what your future looks like when you have reached those goals, and best of all a plan. I am a natural saver, yet when I want to have fun or feel good, spending money is my go to!
This doesn’t work so well when you have a minuscule to almost nonexistent spending allowance each month. Having a go to list of fun activities to do with your family when you don’t want to spend any money is the absolute best way to make sure you don’t spend where you don’t want to.
Let’s be honest for a second. I hate budgeting. I feel poor. Sad. Board. And isolated. But when we don’t “budget” we end up broke and scared. When I don’t have a plan for what our day will look like, my financial plan goes in the crapper.
So, to avoid the feelings of lack, boredom, and isolation I plan out everything. Food and meals presents for birthdays and Christmas, events, activities, you name it. By doing this we avoid overspending, needless spending, and being broke or falling off the budget wagon.
So here is a list of go to things I use for fun free things to do when I want to throw my budget out the window!
Google free local things to do in your town (My kids love the beach and parks)
Go to the library as a family
Invite friends over to play a board game
Go to the dollar store with cash
Picnic at the Park or Beach
Do an art project
Rearrange your house
Go thrifting for 1 piece of furniture and refurbish it
Do an art project
Grill outside in the back yard
Make a fire or light a candle and play a board game, cards, or listen/Dance to music
Read a great book or watch movies
Bake Cookies (always fun)
Go on a nature walk in all seasons!
Go to a free Zoo in your area
Create a Mall scavenger hunt (We did this for my Son’s birthday and they loved taking pictures with our finds! -No money required!)
These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fun free things to do as a family when you’re on a budget. It can be difficult to not spend money when you want to have fun. Even harder when you have kids! Just remember how much fun you had as a kid, what was it you did? I can bet money on the fact it was probably free!! Kids are resilient, and in this society of more, more, more they could use a little down to earth free fun! They are good memory makers!
Also if you are looking for something to do with your kids; remember that they want your TIME more than you spending money! My kids like new toys for a day (maybe) but if I am engaging with them and playing a game with them they will never get tired of it! It makes memories and is so fun! We have gotten old board games out, a deck of cards, or just ran around with sticks in the yard! These are the times they bring up the most to me as having the most fun! We also love going on hikes and playing at parks!
The point is, put the phone away and try to be in the moment with your family because we all know weekend go WAY too fast and soon you are back to the work week and busy schedules! Take the time to enjoy the the day and smell the roses! You won’t be disappointed!
I would love to hear what you and your family do for fun to stay on budget and make good memories at the same time! Email me or leave a comment for everyone to see!
We spend 12 to 16 years in school on average. I don’t know about you, but I never once learned about how to get rich, retire comfortable, or even budget my personal finances. So today we are going to go over the 7 things they never taught you in school about money!
Ever since the day I got married I have been on a quest to see how I can save the most money possible. Saving money and budgeting is a game and a job all rolled into one.
It’s a game because you must keep coming up with strategies for doing it differently or correctly over and over. You are always on the hunt for the cheapest option or best deal. You must keep tweaking the budget, finding alternatives and adjusting your habits. It all boils down to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
It’s a job because it’s an everyday conscience effort to make sure your money isn’t flowing out of your hands as fast as it is coming in or faster! It’s such a fulltime job my husband nicknamed me the “Stay-at-Home Economist”!
By saving what you would normally be spending on wasteful behaviors you can put it aside into your savings, or retirement, or have that money start to work for you. Then in time these accounts will be able to become investment accounts and soon your money will snowball into making money for you! How exciting right?!
3: Consider Cash Flow
This one is a game changer. Get organized when it comes to your cash flow.
Knowing what bills are coming out and when you are getting paid so there is an even flow throughout the whole month, not only brings a peace of mind, but saves money. This way you are not “rich” one weekend and “poor” the next!
Over draft fees and bounced check fees are a ridiculous waste of money that nobody can afford!
This can all be avoided by creating a budget. If you are looking for a quick and easy (non-techy) way of starting a budget you can read my budgeting post by CLICKING HERE. The budget will help you know what is coming out, what is going in, and when to tighten all the reigns. However; this action is not enough on it’s own. What took us a while in the early years is ACTUALLY STICKING TO THE BUDGET! Sure, it’s great to see the spending plan on paper, but it’s a whole other ballgame to live by what is on that paper!
4: Add Income
This one is personal and can only be determined by you and your family life. I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have battled the ever-unresolved discussion of whether one of us should get another job.
The timing must be right for you and your life.
However, if this is a possibility for you, adding a second part-time income would change your finances drastically. This money should be used completely for getting ahead and reaching your goals! It is easy to just let it go towards the “lifestyle” and forget that there is any extra money coming in at all.
Seriously, how many of us have been excited about a raise only to look back a month later wondering how the heck we made ends meet without it? This is the mistake of letting the “lifestyle” rise to the income level rather than setting a modest lifestyle to reach long-term goals with extra money. It takes consistency and self-discipline, as well as a clear vision and focus on what we really want!
This one can be a bit painful the first month. You will have to make the “rice and bean” kinds of sacrifices to be able to do it. But after you have that extra month in the bank, in a separate account, you create what Dave Ramsey calls a “buffer between you and Murphy.” Getting a month ahead was what was key to my husbands and my own peace of mind and feeling like we had a bit of control.
6: Automate Your Savings
Learning your options for automating your saving is a fantastic hack for getting a savings account good and healthy. Sometimes things like putting money to savings needs to be automatic in order for us to do them. One of the biggest obstacles for people getting their adult life together is that they think it is just too hard, or that they don’t have the right tools to do it.
When it comes to money, the truth is that 90% of the battle is just getting the key automated systems into place. Once you set them up most money actions don’t need to be thought about that much, especially if you choose the right ones. StashInvest is a fantastic way to save money without really thinking about it. It’s an organizational app that allows you to save, budget, and organize your finances all in one crisp and clean app. I highly recommend this app as it has everything all in one, and you can start with as little as $5.
7: Dream With Your Goals
This one is just as important as the rest. It may seem superficial and not necessary to mention, but without a dream there is no vison. By keeping your eye on the ball, you most definitely will succeed.
Life has it’s ups and downs, it’s ebb and flow. There will be months it seems smooth, dare I say easy. And months you think nothing else could possibly go wrong. Getting out of the paycheck to paycheck life and putting some cushion between you and what life throws at you bring you peace. Setup smaller achievable goals with your money that lead to those big dreams that you have in you heart!
These 7 things they never taught you in school about money can be a life saver when applied to your finances. I’d love to hear if you were taught any of these things in school? I’d love to know if any of these steps helped you to move forward in your finances. Please drop me an email or leave a comment and let me know of any steps you’ve learned in your adult life that you didn’t learn in school that have helped you transform your money situation!
The dreaded food budget. I despise the food budget. I can’t help but feel that I pay hundreds of dollars for good food that gets eaten by my 5 kids, just to pay for toiletries to clean up after it! J If you feel this way then you are always looking for ways to save money on your food budget too!!
It isn’t hundreds of dollars spent on new carpet or fixing the broken air conditioner! It just goes out the window on food that has to be spent the next week on food again and again. But no matter how I feel about the food budget; we all still need to eat!! 😊
SO with that said I am ALWAYS on the lookout for ways to save money on food.
The food budget is one of the biggest money suckers in the family’s typical budget. Especially if you have gotten the rest of your budget so low that there is no more wiggle room in it.
Personally with 7 people in our house it is one of our biggest expenses. I swear the people at the grocery store know me by name!
We have tried everything and let me tell you there are certain things that work and certain things that just don’t. Each family and situation is different. Finding what works for you is secret trick number one. Don’t be afraid to do unconventional things to make it work!
I’ve come up with a list of 10 Tips that I have found help me keep to my food budget AND save money, which is always the frosting on top of the cake for me! Here are 10 ways to save money on your Food Budget:
1. Meal Plan
First on the list of ways to save money on your food budget is meal planning!
Meal Planning used to always feel like such a big chore for me. Every time I would read those words I would skip over them, writing it off as information I already knew. Yet I didn’t apply.
WHAT A HUGE MISTAKE!
Meal planning isn’t a strict schedule, only an outline of what is on the menu for your week. This doesn’t have to be day to day. Here are some of the easiest and most efficient ways I’ve discovered how to meal plan:
A: Ask your family what they are hungry for!
B: Check out what is about to go bad in your fridge or what you have in the pantry.
C: Check your calendar for any late or rushed nights this week and plan a easy meal that day.
D: Check the weather, any freezing nights where soup would be good? How about scorchers, 90 and up where watermelon and grilled chicken would suffice? Meal planning will help everyone in the family eat what they like and make your schedule SO much easier! It will also allow some good thought out meals in your head (or on your list) when you are walking the grocery aisles, keeping you focused and frugal!
2. Meal Prep
Meal prepping is essential if you are anything like me. I am an extremely lazy cook! (Just between you and me I really hate cooking). But there isn’t much of a choice. I have found that I don’t like to sit in the kitchen for hours on end. I am much happier if I can make things when I am in the mood and have it ready to serve. Also, if you are making meat, prepping it for better flavor and texture is always best. Prepping is essential so you aren’t calling your husband to make that quick fast food stop because you have got it all handled for much less $$$!
3. Batch Cook
Third and going hand-in-hand with meal prep is batch cooking. Batch cooking is simply making large amounts of one item of food to be a quick “go-to” for later. I have certain items I ALWAYS batch cook such as beans, rice, and soup. These are great go to things to throw into a tortilla or make a bowl of when you just don’t have time and are on the go. You can batch cook roasts or whole chickens as well leaving you great options for sandwiches soups, casseroles and the like. This can provide a filling and cheap item to be used in with your meals in a pinch! For example if you are having tacos but just don’t have time to make the beans or rice (cheap fillers) you can just grab from the batch you made earlier in the week!
4. Be Creative with Leftovers
Learning how to create a masterpiece out of a leftover is a skill! But knowing this will most certainly save you a lot of money in the long run. Like batch cooking, having the items pre-cooked and ready to go will help you to create many different dishes from 1 meal.
A leftover roasted chicken for instance can turn into the following:
Loaded Baked Potatoes
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Shredded Chicken Sandwiches
Soup and Homemade Bread
And so many more! It’s a great way not to waste food or money!
5. Never Get Low on Supplies
Shocking as this sounds it is one of the best ways to save money on your food budget! Whenever I let my resources in my fridge and pantry get low, I tend to lean toward takeout. By the time my husband gets home and dinner should be made or at least almost ready, I am in no mood to run to the store (You should never shop hungry anyway)! For some reason I am terrible at timing when my food is going to run out. (Probably because I am always wanting to save money, I want just one more day before I must shop!) So a good rule of thumb is to not let your fridge get too low.
Going grocery shopping when you are on empty at home is an excuse to “over shop” and spend WAAAY over the food budget! It triggers the crises mode in our brain and suddenly budgeting goes out the window! Knowing we have some food back at home enables us to shop with a level head and stick to the food budget and grocery list!
6. Make Your Favorites
There seems to be a trend or thought process that if we are eating at home the meals need to be extra healthy. Unless extra healthy is your thing right now don’t let this thought process block you from making your favorites at home.
At home burger night or pizza night usually winds up tasting 500x better than if you went out and got it! And you save so much money by not eating out for those prices!
Give yourself permission to do nothing but good ol’fashioned pot of creamy mac n’ cheese once in a while! I bet the kids will love it! J Lighten up on yourself and enjoy life!
7. Track Your Spending
This is seventh on the list but was a huge game changer for us!
We would go to the store with our list, and our meal plan, but there was always something that caught our eyes that we needed to have or would be a nice little treat and we would grab it.
It wasn’t until we started tracking what each item cost and how many we purchased and knowing exactly how much money we were going to spend on our food that we started to realize how much we overspent every single shopping trip. You don’t have to be a math genious to calculate what you are putting in your cart! Simply round up or estimate close to where you are at with each item. It gets easier the more you do it!
Try it and you’ll be surprised. Remember if it isn’t on the list, then you didn’t initially need it.
8. Go Ahead and Eat Out
I like to eat out! As a mom, I like to have someone make and clean up dinner for me every now and again! Can I get an Amen!?
I know it’s expensive and puts a HUGE dent in the food money for the other meals I have to make. And yet…….the fact remains I LIKE TO EAT OUT!
I have lived many years feeling guilty for facts like these. For instance if I was to walk into a store I would bet that I will pick out THE MOST EXPENSIVE ITEM in the place because it is my exact taste! I’m naturally attracted to the more expensive items everywhere!
After feeling guilty for years about being this way, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need to be ashamed of who I was, I just needed to work with it.
So I’m here to tell you, go ahead and eat out if that’s what you like. Pick the day that works for you, budget for it, plan the place and know your strategy. Split a meal and only get water if that’s what it takes, but don’t stop living life or worse drop the budget because it makes you want to cry knowing the things you enjoy are no longer yours until the distant future!
This actually can save you money on your food budget because it is easier to stick to the food budget and frugal meals knowing you get a “go out” night later that week! There’s no panic of getting sick of always cooking and meal prepping because a break is coming! It’s like getting to eat a cheat meal when you are on a diet but knowing that you have allowed it and will be right back on the diet for the next meal! It helps! 😁
9. Don’t Get Tricked by Coupons
Coupons! They make me laugh!! Have you ever gotten the ad for the week and all of the sudden find yourself needing things you didn’t even remember existed just because they have a coupon for them?
Don’t get me wrong coupons can be great especially for toiletries but when it comes to food, unless you had it on your list of things to purchase that week, don’t add it just because you found a coupon!! This makes you spend more, not less! And if it is something the kids won’t eat, your just throwing it away in the future anyway!
However if you are going to use coupons I discovered this amazing toolbar that you can download to your web browser that finds a coupon somewhere on the entire internet for the item that you are purchasing. Called WIKIBUY. It’s completely free and incredibly useful.
Don’t forget about Ebates. A fantastic service that offers you literally cash back on purchases you were already going to make online! Great way to put money back in that food budget!!
10. Keep a Fridge List
A life saver for me is my fridge list. This is an actual list you keep on your fridge! As soon as an item runs out I slap it on my list. This is a great help when you are focused on meal planning and forget that the salt is low or other essentials are getting down to the end. It also helps you to know, when you are walking through the store and see something you think you need but forgot to put on the list. It wasn’t essential enough to be put on the list so it can wait for next time!
There you have it! 10 ways to save money on your food budget and make your money/meal relationship much easier!
Let’s be honest budgeting is hard work. It takes sacrifice and planning. But I know you can do it. I know that the life beyond this point is going to be amazing. See how we cut our grocery bill in half and continue to save money on food!
Your income doesn’t matter, your age doesn’t matter, your race doesn’t matter! The only thing that is holding you back is math! This is why you cannot move forward without a written budget. a game plan for your money and your money goals!
When we don’t bother to do the math before we do the spending we do ourselves the biggest disservice.
“Adults devise a plan and stick to it, children do what feels good.” -Dave Ramsey
According to Gallup poll only 32% of households in America maintain a household budget. The rate of financial success within those households is even fewer due to approaching it with the wrong attitude. Anyone can create a budget, it can be simple or complex if desired. It can be full of detail, charts, graphs and financial calculations. However, without approaching it with the right mindset we all fall short of our money goals, every time.
My husband has an MBA and works in finance. He is always coming home with new million-line spreadsheets with crazy formulas for our personal budget and gets excited over the entire budgeting process.
I couldn’t be more opposite! I like things crisp and clean and am more of an old-soul, pen and paper kind of person! So below I have laid out the EASIEST WAY TO START A BUDGET FOR NON-TECH PEOPLE who are like me and prefer the old school way of doing things!
1st: The main idea that I had to remember when we would go over our budget in the beginning is that it doesn’t have to be complicated! It’s MY BUDGET! I can make it however I want! I can grab flowery construction paper to write on with colorful markers if I want to! No matter how simple or stylish you want to make your budget, the key is actually writing down a budget each month! see my post on why you can never move forward without a written budget!
2nd; As far as what formatting and design you use, there is no wrong way to make a budget! After all the whole idea here is to be friends with your budget and visit it often! Why not make it look appealing to you!
3rd: This being said, there are some wrong ways to create a budget and cheat yourself from your own money, but we’ll get into that at a later time. The easiest way to start a budget is to remember this simple principle:
Income – Expense = 0
Yes, ZERO. This doesn’t mean you spend all your money each paycheck! It means you have a place for every dime you make so that you can account for everything that comes and goes. Honestly I’ve scratched my head many times wondering where my paychecks went before sticking to a budget.
Also expenses does not have to mean bills. Millionaires always say the most important rule is to “pay yourself first”. This means your expense should include your savings account, retirement account and any saving for big expenses or purchases coming up (like a new couch or Christmas).
Let’s go over a sample budget:
The easiest way to start and stick to a budget for a non-tech person is to get out a legal pad (a plain notepad will work) and a pen.
Start with Income: Paycheck 1 1000
Paycheck 2 1000
Fun Spending 200
Balance Check: Income 2000 – Expenses 2000 = 0 Check!
Our simple budget is now exactly at zero and we know EXACTLY where our money is going!
This example is as basic as it gets. You can estimate your bills like heating and air based on the month and what you paid previously. This is how big companies plan for their expenses too! It honestly gets easier every month and you may have to do some adjusting through the month based on what comes up.
But one HUGE TIP is to get out your calendar and see what is coming at you that month, holidays, birthdays, date nights, car maintenance, travel, really anything that will use money!
The main point of having any kind of budget is that you stick to it and are constantly referencing it. It’s like being on a diet, if you don’t follow it, it doesn’t work no matter what diet you are on! Having a budget written down is great, but it is your persistence and discipline that is the key factor in making your budget work for you!
With a solid money plan (budget) and the right attitude (see why your attitude is essential with your budget) you will see your money habits change quickly for the better and also feel like you have more money by just keeping track of it! The budget is a huge key for any kind of financial success! And now you know how the EASIEST WAY TO START A BUDGET FOR NON-TECH PEOPLE!
It’s as simple as that! The hardest part about a budget is sticking to it and staying consistent and dedicated in order to have control over your money!