It can be a struggle to stay within your budget, especially around the holidays. I’ve been more actively monitoring my budget and income/expenses for a while now. I’m proud to say we did decrease our spending significantly in November. We also shifted some spending to more quality things such as education and investments.
However, unfortunately, on one income, we still spend more than we make. Not good. I’m confident our plans will take us where we need to go with this, including lifestyle changes, awareness & monitoring, conscious spending, and increased income from other areas.
1) Watching the Little Dollars – For us, its not about ‘skipping the latte’ specifically, but instead the things that you buy as habit that there are alternatives for. For example, making lunches and cutting back on eating out, even if its fast food, is healthier and cheaper.
2) Sharing the Knowledge – One of the most significant changes has been a true evaluation of what’s important to us, and a family goal of working towards our future. I have previously been managing the money more than my husband, and he is now playing a more active role. Sharing the ‘burden’ helps us be more aligned with our goals together, and has significantly minimized some of the confusion or disagreements.
3) Gotta Love Coupons – And of course, there’s nothing like the good old fashioned coupon. Its my personal belief that I have to save at least $1.00 off of something to make it worth my time. And I only use coupons for something I would have bought already.
4) Awareness & Monitoring – I’m actively monitoring my spending and money habits on Mint and Thrive, and I have weekly email reminders and alerts being sent to me. Even if I wanted to forget, too bad, I have now made it a habit not to.
5) Conscious Spending – I wrote a post about How to Curb Impulse Shopping, and for me, the online shop-a-holic, unsubscribing from tempting emails was the trick. It has significantly helped me from thinking about or wondering if I’m missing out on a good deal. Its helped me from justifying why I just have to buy something because of the bargain, since I don’t actually know about the bargain. My husband is great at sticking to the grocery list, and this saves a lot on impulse grocery buys. Overall, I’m trying to wait at least 1 day to 1 week on purchases outside of the norm to determine if they are impulsive or not. I’m not perfect at this, but this is my goal.
6) Setting Expectations with Friends & Family – This is a tough one, but it helps. I talked with my family and friends this year about cutting back on holiday spending, most of us are in the same boat, so it makes it easier. Its almost a relief when you talk about it that everyone says you don’t have to spend too much. This doesn’t mean you can’t do something thoughtful. I’m already finding that I have more quality time lined up with friends and don’t have to worry about the gifts, but instead can spend a little on the event itself.
Finally, I definitely recommend that you don’t push too hard and cut yourself some slack with changing habits. You can’t change habits overnight, or you won’t stick to them. I know that I’m too hard on myself about this, and it is okay to slip as long as you stay true to your goals overall.
Anything I should add to this list?
photo by girlonaglide