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You’ve created a budget and now comes the hard part: learning to stick to it. Chances are, the budget creation was necessary for getting a handle on your finances. The word “budget” gets a bad rap due to its negative connotation when in fact it is a useful tool for managing your money. Where does your money go each month? Set your budget into action by following these money saving tips for sticking to it and you’ll soon see not only where it’s going but how you can redirect it.
Let’s face it, food is a necessary and important budget item. One popular meme trending on social media jokes about the very real dangers of blowing your budget grocery shopping: “Accidentally went grocery shopping on an empty stomach and now I’m the proud owner of aisle 7.” Plan weekly menus in advance, make a shopping list and stick to it. If it isn’t on your grocery list, don’t buy it, not even the chocolate cookies strategically placed by the checkout. Consider using coupons and invest some weekend time perusing grocery store ads for the upcoming week for the best buys. If you enjoy digging in the dirt, try planting tomatoes or herbs in either the backyard or in containers.
2. Be Your Own Barista
If you need coffee to start your day, set up your own home coffee shop. Dedicate counter space to your favorite brand of coffee and flavorings. Invest in a reusable travel mug and you are ready to go! No more waiting in drive-thrus and shelling out money each morning for your daily cup of motivation. The same concept applies to bottled water and for lunch. Skip purchasing bottled water by taking your own water and pack your lunch for additional savings.
3. Leave Home Without Them
Credit cards are often the top reason many of us decide to set a budget. If budgeting with a goal of paying off credit cards, then it is essential that you leave them at home. Use cash for transactions or your checking account via a debit card or checks. If the credit cards are with you, in your wallet, the temptation is too great to reach for them when seeing something you a) don’t need and b) can’t afford. Out-of-sight means out-of-mind and definitely out-of-use.
4. Entertainment & Fun
Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Take a break from movie theater prices by renting a movie to watch at home. Make your own popcorn and snacks for a fun family night or date night. Other entertainment ideas include checking out local community events for free museum or park activities. Being on a budget also doesn’t mean you can’t eat out. Look for restaurant deals and coupons and share a meal or appetizer to save money.
5. Thrift & Consignment Stores
Thrift and consignment stores are great places to shop for a variety of items. From kitchen items to clothes and shoes, thrift stores in particular often benefit local charities. Consider selling the same type items that you no longer use or need at the consignment store. Use money from your seller account to purchase items you do need.
Deciding to set a budget is an important first step in gaining control of your finances. Stay committed by keeping focused on the goal of paying off debts and saving for future needs. Sticking to a budget isn’t easy so don’t be hard on yourself if you slip up. While challenging now, the end result will have you feeling less stressed, better prepared for a financial emergency, and perhaps some extra money for a well-deserved vacation.
Information appearing in this article is obtained from sources we believe are reliable. The information may not be a complete statement of all available data and is not guaranteed as such. Marine FCU is not responsible for the contents of this article and advises its membership to investigate claims before following the information provided.