To quickly recap from part one; when starting a budget you need your essentials budgeted first.
*Food- we should be spending 9-14% depending on what source you read.
*Shelter-Depending on your income and outflow you may have to reassess where you live and/or your living arrangement. Financial advisors will that no more than 25-28% (the opinion varies from site to site) of your income should go toward housing. I am no financial advisor, but you may have to downsize or move if you are over your budget here.
*Clothing-While we need clothes…thank God for clothes…this one can be easy or hard to figure our just how much you need, especially if you have growing children. However, after looking it up, conscience says about 4% of your income should be spent on clothing.
Let’s go back to food…my favorite: set a budget for your food allowance and plan accordingly. I am a meal planner, have been for over 20 years now. At first, t can be hard, but it quickly becomes second nature. You can gather up old cookbooks, Grandma’s recipe box or look online at the endless recipe sites and start planning. When meal planning, make sure when picking out recipes that they include regular products you either have already or will use again. Sauces and spices for example can add up really quick especially if you will rarely use them. Ask a friend if he/she has that sauce or spice and see if you can use it just for that recipe. If so, make sure to give them some of the yummy dish you make. That way they will more than likely let you use there pantry items in the future.
My grocery lists would/do include items we need all of time like toiletries, milk, bread, eggs, did I mention milk. We have usually ate pretty much the same things for breakfast so that was easy. For lunch Hubby took leftovers to works. The kids either brought lunch or ate at school, it varied. I also ate leftovers or made something at home.
Again, our grocery list didn’t vary much other than for dinner items. For that is where the planning helps a ton. Here’s what I looked for: I had a few easy, quick meals for those busier than normal nights, meals that would stretch and I would try to vary the meats. I tried to keep the favorites in there (I give my recipes a star rating to quickly identify the favorites) and add new recipes to try out. Like I said living on a budget doesn’t have to be boring.
Now for the clothing. Luckily, I don’t get bothered if I don’t wear name brand clothes. My family has been pretty good about it too. When the kids got jobs they tended to buy more name brands, but they too quickly learned how to find a good deal. So, I am going to be completely honest…I love to shop at thrift stores. I shop at stores ending in Mart as well, and some name brand stores (clearance racks and sales $$$) as well. But there’s not much like thrifting and walking out with three grocery bags full of shirts that only costs $35. Yes, that just happened last week! It’s like treasure hunting. Hubby mainly buys brand new clothes. In his line of work he needs very sturdy, heavy duty clothes that are VERY hard to come by used. However, the kids and I have gotten a good amount at the thrift stores. Now I don’t buy undergarments or swim wear used. EVER. No matter how tight our budget is. I also shop online for clothes. Where we live we have a For Sale-(our city’s name) on Facebook. It’s like an online yard sale. I have gotten our toddler grocery bags full of clothes for under $40. These types of sites/pages are great for reselling your kiddos used clothing too. There’s also this site I LOVE, LOVE: Thredup. I have to not go there too often or I WILL go over my clothing budget. They have name brands, if that matters to you, quality clothing for women and children. With a family of seven, this is a game changer. Their return policy is terrific too. Okay, enough of the infomercial here. I have also shopped yard sales, but not too often. I prefer the organization of stores. Hand-me-downs have been a blessing to us.
To briefly sum it up, there are many ways to save money and stick to your budget. It takes a bit of time and effort, but it will be worth it and it will pay off.