Overspending much? Here’s some help cutting that annoying habit
It’s relatively easy, when trying to get your finances in order and make a budget, to find which parts of it are entirely superfluous. After all, we all can easily understand that cinema outings or going clubbing isn’t a need, but something we can cut or reduce without much problem.
There are, however, certain parts of our budget where we can overspend without knowing – specifically, things that are needs, and thus we can’t cut out from our budgets, but where we could well be spending less money than we are.
The golden example of this, and where this article will focus, is groceries. We can’t not buy groceries, and we also can’t just say “Oh I’m going to cut down grocery spending by half,” at least not if we plan on remaining alive and healthy. Yet there are ways to optimize what we get, particularly if we’re regularly taking out spoiled food because we never quite eat everything we get. Here are a few tips to curb, and hopefully eliminate, this small, but considerable weight on your budget.
Schedule your meals
Do you know what’s the best way of knowing you’re indeed going to eat that dozen of bananas or use the whole package of bacon before it spoils? By knowing exactly what you’re going to use it all on before you buy it.
Having a meal schedule can be annoying and feel weird, sure. For decades the image ultra-controlling parent who knows not only what they’re going to cook every day of the year, but also what they’re going to wear and even how they’ll style their hair has been a comedy mainstay. However, there’s a lot to be gained from having a certain degree of future planning, particularly on the food front.
Knowing what you’re going to eat for the next fortnight or so might seem ridiculously rigid, but it will allow you to always buy exactly what you need, and exactly how much you need. Which means no food will go to waste, thus giving you the most bang for your buck.
It also allows you to keep an eye on how you’re eating, which means potentially eating better (good for your health!) while also minimizing the impulse to order a pizza. You might feel weird doing this at first, but it’ll help you win in all fronts.
Keep a shopping list. Stick with it.
Don’t just go to the market and walk through the aisles buying everything you suddenly remember you need – because that’s a very nice way to buy a bunch of things you don’t need without noticing.
Instead, create a shopping list based on your meal schedule and your budget. Know beforehand exactly what you’re going to buy and how much it costs, then stick to it. If you see anything that might seem interesting to try, keep it in mind, write it down, but don’t buy it right away. Instead, see if you can fit it on your next monthly budget – that way you’ll still be able to try and sample whatever new thing your local market is offering without throwing your budget into disarray.
Use coupons when you can
The savings most coupons offer you is meagre, usually 10 to 15%, but they add up. Saving up a dollar here or there is little at first, but over a month it can add up to a not-so-small amount. And over a year it can easily pass the $100 mark.
So, annoying as it might be, shop with coupons when you can. Every little saving adds up.
Extra tip: Don’t shop while hungry
Because when we’re hungry our brain tends to lead us to purchase any amount of things that seem incredibly tasty and great ideas. And then, once you’ve eaten, you’ll realize perhaps roasting a whole turkey is far too much work and now that you mention it that thing doesn’t even look like it will fit in your oven anyway.
This might seem silly, particularly if you’re already sticking to your shopping lists just fine, but not being hungry while shopping will certainly make it easier for you to stick to your planned budget.
Another extra: Don’t shop socially
Sticking to a shopping list and schedule on your own is hard enough. It only gets harder if you do it with a friend or two who, at the sight of pretty much anything, will go “We should do a wine night” “Let’s get together for pork chops next week!” or “Let’s spend Sunday watching films and eating pizza.” They mean well, of course, and those plans are indeed fun, but they can really damage your saving plans. To avoid this, better go shopping alone – or at best, with someone who is aware of your attempts to save money and who can perhaps even help you with that.