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Tips for staying on budget


Forum: Financial Planning and Budgeting

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  • 1 Post By ~Kris~

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  #1  
November 8th, 2011, 09:18 AM
joonzgurl's Avatar Proud mama of 2 girls
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Location: Small Town, Alberta, Canada
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How do you do it?

We use all cash.. but have really been sucking since the baby came.

Is it discipline? Going without? Whenever my husband's cheque comes in, I take cash out for our life expenses (entertainment, groceries, etc). Once the cash is gone, that is supposed to be it.

I am finding though that I am always running out of money, and using my debit card to get us through until his next cheque comes... and just justifying it to myself by saying "I will buy these $40 of groceries, and take $40 less cash next time"

But it is a vicious cycle!

How do you make sure you stay on budget? Perhaps we are just not budgeting enough.
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  #2  
November 8th, 2011, 10:27 AM
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Well, you are either cheating yourself by continuing to take more after you are out of money OR your budget is unrealistic.

In helping people in the past, I have found that for most people, it is because they are cheating themselves by not having the discipline to stick to the budget and are caving when it comes to wants. Things like entertainment is not a need, it's a want.

If you'd like to share, either here or thru PM what expenses you are using cash for and how much, I can let you know if I think you're spending more than you should on certain things. I have helped people in the past.
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  #3  
November 8th, 2011, 03:11 PM
joonzgurl's Avatar Proud mama of 2 girls
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Hey Kris! I may as well post it here so that others who end up reading this posting can get the whole picture.

Our Cash Expenses- here are the bi-monthly amounts

Groceries and personal care (diapers, etc) - $300
Clothing and gifts - $60
Entertainment - $97.50
"Man Money" (ie money for my husband to buy what he wants with) - $70

Do you think some of these amounts are too low? I don't really understand how we keep running out, especially since we haven't done much in terms of entertainment since the baby came!

Note that I live in Alberta, Canada... not sure where you are but the cost of living could be a lot different
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  #4  
November 8th, 2011, 05:46 PM
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For the categories you have listed, $600/month for groceries is high for just the 2 of you, even with counting diapers for the LO. Even with the higher cost of living for CAN that seems like a lot.

The others seem reasonable to me. Depending on your income, you may want to decrease the entertainment and man money. I would try to stay under 10% of total income for fun stuff (entertainment, eating out, man money, vacations, etc).

What about other things like medical expenses, home maintenance, misc (haircuts, etc).
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  #5  
November 9th, 2011, 07:07 AM
joonzgurl's Avatar Proud mama of 2 girls
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I'm not certain $600 is high- 2 chicken breasts costs $8, a block of cheese $10, a loaf of bread about $4, a pack of diapers $40 (for 1 weeks worth), I am not sure we could cut down in that category at all!

But definately I will work on cutting down man money and entertainment, thanks for the suggestion!

Stuff like hair cuts prescriptions, etc. come out of groceries and personal care. Our prescriptions costs are low though- as we have a good medical plan and $140 in our budget to cover those premiums so a lot of those expenses are covered.

I think my entire problem is discipline, and just giving in to "wants" and not needs.
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  #6  
November 12th, 2011, 04:00 PM
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Just curious why are you spending $120 on clothes and gifts? I spend MAYBE $100 a YEAR on clothes for myself and $200 A YEAR in clothes for my son. Have you tried lowering your clothing bill? $120 per month every month seems extremely high IMO. And i agree that $140 for your husband to just blow on what he wants every month seems a bit high too. I mean we all want things sometimes and that's fine, but to allot $140 per month every month seems a bit unrealistic.
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  #7  
November 13th, 2011, 12:45 PM
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I'd also recommend when you go to the grocery store, make out a list before you go and DO NOT buy anything that isn't on the list. My only exception to this rule is if I forget something like toilet paper (which is obviously a need) and happen to remember when I pass it in the store that we need it. But basically, if it isn't on my list it does not get bought. If I pass something that I think we need I write it on the back of my list and get it the following week when it IS on my list (providing we can last the week without it). So that's my rule, if it's not on the list it is not purchased. I also make sure that I price match sale ads and shop at walmart (which I realize being in Canada is different for you), but if you clip coupons and ad shop that helps greatly as well. There's 3 of us, I spend around $100 a week in food and that includes things like individual fruit cups for school lunches. I'm diabetic so I can only eat whole fruits and veggies and have to buy healthy foods and things like double fiber bread (which are more expensive) and my son has a GI issue so he too has to have whole fruits and veggies and double fiber breads. My grocery bill also includes toiletries, household stuff like cleaners, and any b-day gifts that may come up.
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  #8  
November 13th, 2011, 01:15 PM
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We are also just under $100/wk for groceries, cleaners, diapers (x2), OTC meds, etc for the 5 of us. I know CAN prices are higher, but $150/wk seems really high to me. Although, I just had a thought, are you using formula and if so, is that included in that cost because I know that's pretty pricey.

I didn't think $120 for clothing AND gifts is that much. We are definitely over that for those 2 categories! Mommie2One-I see yu are in AZ, which means you little seasonal change. I know things lke spring jackets, winter coats, boots, getting clothes because of season changes even if they still fit, etc do add up!
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  #9  
November 13th, 2011, 01:25 PM
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You ever been to AZ? We're 120 in the summer and 20-30 in the winter...yeah BIG CHANGE. My son has a thick winter coat with fleece lining, a beanie fleece hat, fleece gloves. Only thing he doesn't have/need are boots, but he still goes through shoes. I spend $100 in clothes for my son for summer and $100 for clothes in winter (in fact, just had to buy him a new winter jacket, but I get it big enough that it will last 2 years). He gets 5 pairs of pants and 5 shirts and shoes 2-3 times a year (new Balance at $25-$30 per pair) and that is all. I do not over spend on clothes and crap like most people do. I also have a set limit of $10 for gifts for friends for birthdays, and my son makes a card, and I get wrapping papper at the 99 cent store for cheap. I still think $120 EVERY MONTH on clothes is crazy. I buy clothes once every 3-4 YEARS for myself, shoes once every 2 years if that. My son obviously needs clothes twice a year because he grows out of stuff from the previous year, but again I keep it in perspective and we never have stuff with tags left on them like most folks I know. And on things I can, like jackets, I buy big enough that they'll last for 2 years instead of 1. I try and buy smart and think ahead. I also buy clothes at Walmart, Target or Kohls and not expensive places like Children's Place. And my husband hasn't purchased clothes in over 5 years. He buys shoes every 2-3 years and that's about it. We're adults, our clothes and jackets fit from year to year. Now I've lost a lot of weight and I'm still wearing my big clothes and have just used belts to make things smaller so that I do not have to go out and waste money on clothes that I know I will grow out of as I continue to lose weight.

IMO it's all about priority. Some people love clothes and go crazy...I don't. Some folks spend $30+ on gifts for kids friends...I don't. Some people over spend on clothes at expensive places (a friend of mine spent $100 on a Halloween costume for her five year old)...I don't. If I budgetd clothes monthly (which I don't, I just budget the $100 when it comes up), it'd be MAYBE $20 a month. I just can't imagine spending $120 every single month for 12 months out of the year on clothes and gifts. That's close to $1,500 a year in clothes and gifts. Gifts for family, we exchange baked goods (yes I mail mine as all of my family is out of state) as we got tired of making gifts about store bought material items. There ARE ways to cut it for sure.

I can see spending more on healthy foods and such, but I think that a clothing allowance of $1,500 per year could probably be cut in half regardless of where one lives.

We also keep Christmas to $150 MAX for our son and $100 MAX (most of that is shipping) for family/friends. That helps keep us on budget as well.

Last edited by SpazTaz; November 13th, 2011 at 01:28 PM.
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  #10  
November 13th, 2011, 03:17 PM
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I apologize, I thought I had heard AZ was pretty warm most of the year (MIL has talked about it as a possible retirement location).

You are most likely in the extreme minority in the small amount of clothing that you purchase/how often you purchase. Just because you choose to purchase so little does not automatically make everyone else in the extreme group.

I do not think that I go overboard in purchasing clothing for my family, but for the last few years we have been right around $1000/year for the 5 of us. Shoes alone really add up for us. I keep a "good" pair and a "play" pair of gym shoes for each of the kids. Add in needing a dress pair of shoes for the holidays, a pair of nice sandals and play sandals for the summer and boots for the winter and it seems to run a small fortune. My oldest has developed wide feet and his last few pairs of shoes have been $40-$55 each. My husband and I each get gym shoes about 2x a year (I run quite a bit and his building has concrete floors and he has bad arches too) plus we need nice shoes for times as well.

I don't know about you, but I need to buy new bras at least once a year. I'm not talking anything fancy, unless Target is fancy. Jeans-can't seem to have them last longerthan 6 months or so before the knees start to look faded-I guess that is what happens when I'm on the floor with the kids. Sure I will wear them around the house like that, but I need to keep at least 1 nice pair for going places.

I know if I were a working mom, I certainly would be spending more money on clothes. Sometimes there is a line as to what looks presentable.
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  #11  
November 13th, 2011, 03:35 PM
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Well, it is compared to most of the country and we do not get snow in southern AZ, but Flagstaff has below freezing temps and gets buried under snow every year. And our temps even down south at night are in the teens and 20's. During the day we warm up to 40 or 50, but when my son goes to school it can be 20-30 degrees out and stay that way until 10:00 or 11:00 AM,s o he still needs warm clothes. Plus he's "cold blooded", if it's under 70 he's dressing like it's below zero temps and we're rarely above 50 during the day in the winter.

I work, but we can wear whatever to the office. My boss probably wouldn't care if we came in in PJ's. I do buy bras once a year and I buy 2, but they're $60 each, but I use b-day money for those personally.

Like I said, it's all about decisions. I prefer to put more into savings than putting it into clothes that he'll grow out of. 5-7 pairs of stuff suffices and he doesn't have 2 different shoes and doesn't wear sandals as I do not permit sandals with bike riding and he rides his bike almost all of the time. So he gets a new pair of tennis shoes (always New Balance) 2-3 times a year and we get them at Famous Footware so they tend to run $25-$30 with coupons and such. I also only have 1 which makes things a bit easier also.

Last edited by SpazTaz; November 13th, 2011 at 03:39 PM.
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  #12  
November 13th, 2011, 05:48 PM
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Their play sandals are for when they wash the cars and their bikes, not for bike riding. Or for walking to the neighborhood pool.

I don't get any bday money.
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  #13  
December 18th, 2011, 07:44 PM
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Right now, we function on $400 a month for groceries including formula, diapers, and stuff for 1 cat and 2 dogs.

Coupons are a HUGE help to make that budget work. (I have doubled how much groceries I bring home with coupons and I am buying stuff we need not useless stuff). I recommend laying out the papers each week and making your meal plan around whats on sale. Buy chicken when its on sale and save it for later weeks.

In terms of your other stuff, $180 in entertainment seems high. What do you include in there?
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  #14  
March 31st, 2012, 08:38 PM
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I have to admit the only thing I see that should/could be trimmed would be the man money. DH and I get spending money of $100 a month and even that seems high to me but its a new change to our budget so I am giving it time to play out.
Coupons can really help with the grocery bill and bargin shopping. I have written down prices at stores when I go, even when I wasn't shopping for that item just so I know what the prices are. It really helps when I go somewhere and I know that I can get it cheaper. If its only a couple cents I might still get it just because gas is a factor too. But overall I try to make the best cost decision. I have also learned to stick to my list and not get crazy. I read not to long ago shopping for a month at a time can help you avoid overspending as well because when you go to the store many people (not all) will impulse buy so shopping for the whole month at once curbs that.
Good luck and please post any other questions you have.
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  #15  
April 1st, 2012, 03:16 PM
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I agree with others that the "man money" is too high. DH and I each get $25 a month and if we come in under budget on groceries we get to spend that, too (a great incentive to bargain shop). We only have "dates" 3-4 times a year. Usually we take advantage of free stuff like movies in the park or get a fancy coffee and window shop.
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