Monday, October 3, 2016

31 Days of Money-Saving Tips: Day #1 - Create a Budget

Today I want to talk about budgets, and how they can save you money.  Now, I was not always a budget person.  We also didn't always have a regularly-scheduled paycheck either.  Part of the reason I started budgeting was to make sure I had enough money to cover our bills and groceries, not necessarily to save money.  I would get to the end of the month, and need to run to the store for food, and not have much left to do that with.  We would have to do without things that I thought we needed.  It was rough.  So, I decided to change things up and set a budget.
Here's how we do things now.  Joe gets paid at the beginning of the month.  I use that month to pay all of our bills.  Then I take the grocery money out, right now that's $350 per month.  What is leftover is our gas money for the month.  Some months there is more, some months there is less.  If we have more we can doing more running around, if there is less, we don't.  It's really that easy.
My paycheck is our slush fund.  The money I earn from flea markets, listing online, and at my regular job is what buys our clothing, our cat's food and litter, it's what we use to eat out with, and purchase basically anything else we want or need.  My paycheck varies, while Joe's is always the same.  I know which months will have more and which will have less pay, so I can plan accordingly.  We've been doing our finances this way for about 6 years, so I pretty much have it down to a science.  I'm pretty good at planning ahead for what will we need, and getting deals on those needs.  Even with adding Howard to our family, the only change has really been to the grocery budget.  
Now, how does this save you money, well, it's pretty simple.  If you budget a certain amount, then that is all you can spend.  Period.  No more, only less.  Even though everyone's budget will look different, this concept still applies.
The best example I can give is with grocery shopping.  I have $350 a month, that's it.  So as I shop throughout the month, I have to be diligent about what I am buying.  Even with stocking up on great deals, I still have to make sure that I have enough money available to buy things like bread or milk, should we run out.  It saves you money, because you are evaluating each purchase, not just throwing things in your cart because they look good or they're on sale.
So, my #1 tip to you to start your money-saving journey is to set a budget.  Even if you only start with one thing, like groceries, do it.

Photos for this series are from Flickr.  They are pictures that are under the license of ‘commercial and mods allowed.’  Edits were done by me.  The licensor does not endorse me or my use.

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