My husband recently told me that I have the “I want syndrome.” As we laughed about it I realized I do talk about things I want all the time but I rarely talk about how I’m going to budget for them. Now that doesn’t mean my husband and I don’t talk about our monthly budget for household items or vacations but I don’t really budget my monthly spending allotment separately. Before I could do that, we needed to sit down and go over our household budget with a fine tooth comb to make sure we were maximizing every dollar. We are currently paying down debt and saving for a home (now I know this isn’t Dave Ramsey’s method but it works for us). I just can’t fathom only having $1000 in savings if something bigger happens, we have the cushion we need. We are making large dents in our debts so for now, we aren’t doing the debt snowball. I digress. Thankfully our bank separates purchases by debit cards so we can see who spends what and how much. Of course I’m more of the spender but it hasn’t gotten out of control. After we filled in some gaps, I began working on a budget for my monthly allotment.
I like other people have several interests. Since blogging isn’t my only hobby, I have to be more careful about what I spend my money on. I don’t want to purchase every picture or class but I realize I have to invest if I want plan to turn this into a business. For instance, I am going to the annual Blog Her Conference in Orlando in June so I have to set money aside for lodging, food, etc. Writing down the things I want to do got me to thinking that budgeting is the most important thing we can do not only to manage our house hold expenses but a budget is a must if you want to enjoy your hobbies.
“I don’t have enough money left over for anything else.” That’s not entirely true. One of the biggest reasons why is because people don’t want to create a budget. Most people feel budgets are depressing, restrictive, and condemning. Budgets are not restrictive, budgets are empowering. Sticking to a budget provides freedom, gives peace of mind, and allows you control your money. You control what it does and where it goes. Some people struggle with this because they either make it too restrictive or too open ended. To budget successfully, you must find a balance. It took my husband and me a few months to find a budgeting system that works for us which we’re still working on. Let’s face it, life happens and sometimes we have to adjust but we’ve figured out some simple ways to cut back that gives us the ability to save 50% of my income each month and still enjoy the things we love.
One of the biggest things we did was cut back on unnecessary spending. To do that we begin doing no spend weekends that turned into no spend weeks which eventually turned into no spend months. We only bought the necessities, groceries, gas, rent, etc. We found free things to do for date night, and I did not shop. It was rough as rough as I thought it would be and we saved $450 extra dollars that month alone. Cutting out unnecessary expenses is easier than you think. Cut back on a few of these and you can shave of $50+ of spending easily. One of the first things we did was track our spending for 60 days. We combed through our bank statements at the end of the 60 days to see where our money was going. We found we were wasting money on fast food, coffee (me), and other small things. We eliminated those immediately. Here are just a few ways you can cut your spending too:
Starbucks: $20 a week (and that’s an estimate). Buy coffee and flavored creamer at the store and you’ve got a cheap latte for a few cents per day.
Gym membership: $120 per year. The average gym membership is $10 per month. How often have you used it? Who says you have to pay to get in shape. YouTube has tons of free videos. Check out your local parks or meetup to find walking groups, Zumba, and much more.
Cut the cable cord: the average cable bill is $120 per month!!!! That is ridiculous. There are plenty of ways to watch your favorite shows without breaking the bank. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, etc. I haven’t had cable for over 5 years and I don’t miss it at all. Find other ways to spend your time and you’ll thank me later.
The biggest way I cut back on spending was tackling my grocery bill. If you ask any of my friends they will tell you that I was always in the store. I grocery shopped regularly. But, if I wanted to try a new recipe, I’d go and get all the ingredients. If I didn’t remember if the ingredient was in my pantry, I would buy it just in case which was wasteful. The amount I was spending on groceries monthly was sickening. I calculated that I was spending over $600 a month on groceries for two people!!!!! That is nauseating. My husband just shook his head but we went to work on changing my habits. Here’s what I did to change that:
- Cleaned out my pantry
- Shopped my pantry
- Created a meal plan around ingredients on hand
- Cooked more
- Created recipes with items on hand
- Purchased produce in season
- Avoid prepackaged meals.
- Shopped the meat market
- Bought generic items
- Shopped once a week.
By doing these small things I was able to cut my grocery bill to $225!!! That’s a $375 difference. Changing this one habit is a savings of $4500 per year! We have been able to put that money into savings, pay for vacations, enjoy better date nights, and pay off more debt. Next we negotiated car insurance, cell phone, and internet bills. We called each provider to discuss what we could do to lower our bills. Total amount of savings was $180 a month. Don’t be afraid to call your providers or change providers.
Since we’ve implemented these strategies, we been able to save more and put more towards our savings and our hobbies. If you don’t have control over your money, you don’t have the right to enjoy it.
Next week I’ll give you legitimate sites to earn extra money to help pay down debt, save for your house and go towards your hobbies.