It's official. I'm now on a budget. Husband and I decided we want to start saving more money. Where does it all go? It doesn't seem like we spend that much, but how come we're not seeing it in our savings. We have lots of plans, vacations, college funds, retirement, cottage on the lake. We decided to take a closer look at how we're actually spending our money.
We like our credit card. I put all my groceries, gas, and other expenditures on it and the card gives a percentage back based on how much we spent. I recently received a check for $78! That really was free money. I wouldn't have gotten that check if I had used cash. The problem is, it's too easy to use the card. We took a closer look at what was put on the card. Our biggest expense - groceries! I almost had a heart attack when I added up what we spend in one month. I DO have 4 kids, but I still think I'm spending too much. That's when I talked to my friend Dee.
Dee told me she's been on a budget ever since she and her husband got married. They sat down and decided how much they can spend each month, and how much will go into their savings and emergency fund. They call their emergency fund anything that comes up each month that they weren't planning on , such as fixing their car all the way down to a birthday present! For Christmas, she has a Christmas club that she contributes to all year. She only spends the money allotted for it. I asked her how she handles the grocery bill. She told me she has an amount she can spend at the store and uses a calculator to add everything up as she puts it in her cart. She puts some extra items that she wants, but doesn't actually need in the corner of her cart. If she gets to the end of her shopping and sees she's over her limit, she has to put back some of the items in her "extra" corner until she's back within her budget. Dee said it's fun. It's kind of like a game.
Really? Hey, I like games! I could do that! My husband and I decided on a grocery budget. This week I even decided to spend $50 less than that, to make up for some of the Christmas presents I was buying. I took a calculator to the grocery store. I entered the price of EVERYTHING, right down to the price of my eggplant. I must admit, I felt a little embarrassed at first. What would people think of me and my calculator? I tried hiding it at first. Then I realized what Dee was talking about. It really was like a game! I found myself watching every single penny I spent! I wanted 4 bananas, so I looked for the smallest ones I could find. This was the first time I bought generic ketchup. It was so much cheaper! I never even looked at the price of sprinkles for my cookies before, $2.99? Forget it, I'll think of something else. Would you believe I came in $6 below what I wanted to spend? By watching EVERYTHING, I had enough money to buy supplies for Christmas cookies and some fish that I really wanted. It really wasn't that hard. I had fun doing it, too. Also, by the time I got to the end of the store, I didn't care who saw my calculator. My husband is very happy about this, too. A calculator, such a simple thing.
Everyone I know tells me they spend so much on groceries, too. Who says, "Honestly, I don't spend very much on food?" Try this the next time you go to the store. It's amazing. I can't believe I haven't tried this before. I'm going to call Dee now to thank her. THANK YOU!
Please tell me any budget tips you have!