Hats off to those of you who manage their budget. It’s a pretty difficult task, and you’ll often find yourself having to say “sorry, no” or “maybe next year” to loved ones. And some months, no matter how hard you try, you’ll go over budget. Fear not, though. We’ve got some strategies to help right the ship if you’ve blown your budget for the month!
If you’re like most people, you’ve got some fixed costs that you likely can’t do anything about. These include mortgage payments, car payments, maybe even some student loan payments. So, if you need to right your budget, you need to drill down on those expenses that do have some flexibility and focus your efforts there. For many, these include groceries and dining out, entertainment, and various memberships and subscriptions.
Yes, it definitely takes some extra time to plan out your meals for the week, but the payoff is significant. By both eating in, and buying just the right amount of food, you’ll be able to optimize your food budget. There are a ton of resources out there on both meal planning and budget meals; one of our favorites is Budget Bytes. The cost of each recipe is broken down, so you’ll be able to calculate your costs and savings for the month by following the plan!
No online shopping
Challenge yourself to buy everything the old-fashioned way for the month. Yes, you can score some great deals online, but too often you get persuaded into putting extra items in your cart to get free shipping or reach a spending threshold for some other promotion. Or, while shopping for an innocent household product, an ad pops up for a pair of shoes you just have to have. Reduce temptations to stray from your budget by staying offline!
While credit cards can be a fantastic tool to earn some great travel rewards, studies continue to show that people spend more freely with credit cards than they do with cash. Once you’ve set your budget for the month, set aside the amount of cash budgeted for each category in envelopes and shop with only those funds. No credit cards allowed!
Pause your recurring bills
Have you taken an inventory recently of all of your recurring monthly charges? With so many subscription services available, more and more people are seeing their budgets eaten away by subscription fees. Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, HelloFresh, the list of possible subscription services is endless! Identify which services you could live without for a month or two while you get your budget in line, and then call to ask to put your service on hold (or cancel it altogether).
Make some money
The idea of simply making more money is one that gets overlooked when trying to manage a budget, but it can be a viable alternative to cutting expenses. The simplest way to make a few dollars would be to identify some items that you no longer need, and to put them up for sale on Facebook or Kijiji. You could always take it a step further and pick up a side hustle as well.
Getting your budget back in line will take some sacrifice and hard work, but the alternative is much more painful – debt that may take years to pay back.