Even when living on a budget, we all have months that are tighter than others. For us, September has been one of those months. We had a few extra expenses that we were expecting, and other pressing things just keep coming up! So, I thought that today I would share with you guys some things that help me stick to the budget when times are tough.
1.) Keep tracking your spending. It can be so tempting to stop keeping track of your expenditures when you feel like sticking to the budget is hopeless. From personal experience I can tell you that the months that I do the absolute worst with going over on the budget are the ones where I stop recording what I spend. Even if you are already in the negative, keep writing things down. I promise you will better control your spending this way.
2.) Utilize your food storage. Food storage is not just for job loss and natural disasters. I work hard to keep our food storage stocked up, and it is a huge blessing to us. Plus, food storage should be rotated anyway! It is there for you to use, so when you need it, don't worry about using as much as you need. You can re-stock next month when you have a bit more wiggle room.
3.) Plan out a simple meal plan. Having a meal plan will keep you from tossing your hands in the air at the end of the night and declaring, "we have nothing! I'm getting takeout." At the start of this week, we had literally nothing in the fridge and $13.00 left to get us through this month. I went to the cupboards and freezers and started to brainstorm what I could make using mostly storage or getting just 1 or two cheap items at the store. Here is what our meal plan looks like this week:
breakfast for dinner
Isn't it amazing what you can do with storage items and a little thought? Here is what I had to get at the store to make those meals, breakfasts and lunches possible:
fried rice packet
4.) Stay away from the stores. Try to keep yourself away from places where it's easy to spend money. I can't even tell you how many times I've run to Walmart for 2 things and left having spent $25. So frustrating. I have found that for me it is easier to just stay away completely. If you only need one thing, borrow from a neighbor or have someone grab it for you while they're out. If you just need an outing, try the park or the library or someplace that is free.
5.) Don't be afraid to say no. Again, this can be a hard one for me. You may remember me struggling with it in this post. It can feel awkward and embarrassing to say, "we can't afford it" when friends ask you to lunch or to a movie. I feel like I have learned a lot about how to do this since we started budgeting. I have found that it usually is only awkward if you make it that way. You don't have to say flat out "no," or explain your whole life story. Try saying, "our budget is super tight right now, I'd love to go next month!" or "would it be okay if we pack lunches and go to the park instead?" I usually find that my friends are totally supportive and flexible.
6.) Remember why you budget. Sometimes it is important to take a step back and realize that budgeting is a choice. I budget so that I can have a nice home. I budget so that I can stay home with my kids. I budget so that one day we can retire. I budget because I love the freedom that comes with being debt free. I budget so that we can vacation. I budget so that one day I no longer have to.
Remember, you're not alone. Good luck guys, you can do it!
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**If you enjoyed this post, check out these similar budget posts:Making a Financial Plan That's Right For You
Budget is Not a Four Letter Word
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