Budget Like a Boss!
Table of Contents
- What is a Budget?
- 3 Types of Budgets
- Comprehensive Budget
- Problem Solving Budget
- Planning Budget
- Budgeting Tips to Remember
- Don’t Rush your Budget
- All Budgets Aren’t the Same
- Expect Surprises
- Stick to your Budget
- Keep a Positive Attitude
- Create a Roadmap
- Give Yourself Control
- Reduce Arguments
- Improve Relationships
- Prepare Yourself For Emergencies
- Improve Your Habits
- Help Yourself With Your Debt
- Help Yourself Save Money
- Improve Your Wellness
- Reduce Stress
- Take Your Budget With You
- Pay Yourself First
- Make It Fun
- Use a Prepaid Card
- Limit the Cash you Carry
- Use One Credit Card
- Adopt Cost Cutting Habits
- Treat Yourself
- Review with Friends or Family
- Shop with a Strong Saver
- Focus on Different Categories
- Become Value Conscious
- Round to the Dollar
- Set an Overall Goal
- Forgive Yourself
A budget is a useful money management tool that you can use to record your finances; it is an organized record of planned vs. actual expenses and money left over. A budget can be as simple as putting the income you bring home along with the expenses you pay for on a regular basis organized on paper to get a visual comparison of how much you make and how much you spend.
When you are able to see, on paper, how much money you have and where it is going it is easier to adjust your lifestyle to meet your needs because you can track your progress. It basically creates a bigger picture of your financial situation, so that you can take control of it.
A budget not only makes your expenses and money more visual and tangible, but it can also help to analyze your money in a number of different ways. Your budget can help you determine if you even bring home enough money to pay your bills, find out if you are paying too much for a certain expenses (like food or groceries), or create a plan on how you will spread your money to cover expenses.
Other than being a tool to analyze your money, budgets can also help resolve some of your financial issues. A great way you can use your budget would be to help lower your expenses by setting monthly limits on how much you plan to spend for each type of expense. Other things a budget can help resolve include saving money for something special, like a vacation or paying off a debt. You can even use a budget to limit your shopping to avoid spending too much money.
A budget can be used for a number of different reasons, all of which should help you to get a better understanding of your money as well as handle your personal finances more effectively and efficiently.
Choosing the right type of budget comes down to what you need it to do. A budget can control your monthly spending, create financial safety, or help achieve your financial goals. Below is an explanation of a few different types of budgets.
A Comprehensive Budget, also known as a Master Budget, is a very detailed budget used when you want to limit your spending. This type of budget is often used when you have a limited income and you need to cut back on your expenses. A Comprehensive Budget keeps track of your spending by creating a detailed list with categories for all your expenses, usually for a month at a time.
Use this budget to cut back on your expenses by setting limits to the different categories on your list. Determine the income you generate during the period of your list (i.e. if your list is monthly use your monthly income) and use it to set strict limits for each category. By setting strict limits to each category on your list you can track whether you are spending too much or not on each category.
You can also use the Comprehensive Budget to review the way you spend money over time, this is called an Overall Budget. The difference with this type of budget is the detail of the categories and time period the budget spreads across. An Overall Budget has broader categories and the time period is usually over a year instead of a month. This budget will allow you to compare your general spending over the years.
If you used the comprehensive budget and notice that you are having trouble controlling money in a few areas, such as entertainment or beauty a problem-solving budget may help to address over spending in these areas. By creating a finely detailed list for these problem areas (more detailed than the general categories for your comprehensive budget) you can limit all the ways in which money is spent among these categories.
For example, if you have a category designated for clothing, you may want to finely detail the category to include the type of clothing and for which member of the household it was for. Later, review your clothes spending and figure out how many of the items you bought were needed or put to use. You may find that you are spending too much on certain items, like shoes. The problem-solving budget will help identify these problems in your spending.
If you are budgeting in order to save money for a something, such as a vacation or a new home a planning budget can help achieve your goal. The Planning Budget works by adding an additional category to your budget that you designate for the goal you are trying to achieve.
To make this budget work, you must pay for your other expenses first. Once the rest of your budget is met, you can take any left over money and add it to this extra category. This category can be named whatever you like, and can even be used as an emergency fund. The money added to this category is not spent; instead, it is saved until you reach the amount needed for your goal.
Another variation of the Planning Budget is the Cost-Saving Budget. Unlike the Planning Budget, the Cost-Saving Budget helps you increase your yearly savings instead of saving money for a defined goal. To use this budget make an additional category for savings or emergencies. Next, look over your budget from year-to-year, looking for ways to lower your overall expenses.
For example, instead of buying cheaper clothing, you may spend more up front for clothes with quality fabrics. It may cost more up front, but in the long run you will save money because the clothes last longer, meaning you don’t buy clothes as often. You can even try stocking up on winter clothes in the summer or summer clothes in the winter because out of season clothing is usually cheaper in price.
For anyone new to budgeting, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Most people think about budgeting the same way they think about dieting; you know it is good for you, but it can seem like too much work at times. Here are some useful tips to help you with your budget.
If you miss your budget right away, don’t give up. It takes at least a month to identify any problems and make adjustments to your budget.
People often rush into their budget without much thought, expecting it to work right away. You need time to adjust to your budget to determine whether it is right for you. Give your budget about 3 months, if you are still having problems considering revising it and making adjustments as needed.
Budgets will vary from person to person because everyone’s financial and debt situation is different.
There are a numerous types of budgets. Each depends on the goal or conclusion you are trying to accomplish. For example, some people need a budget to merely keep track of their money, while others look to budgeting as a way to keep their expenses below the amount they can actually afford.
Not all your expenses are going to be the same each month. It is important to understand this and prepare for months when bills may be higher than usual.
For the most part, monthly bills are pretty consistent, such the cable bill; however, other bills, like utility or phone bill, may vary from month-to-month. For this reason it is important to average out the cost of your expenses, for at least 3 months, than using the cost from a single month. Additionally, on months when one of these varying expenses falls below the average in your budget, put the money away instead of spending it to better prepare for those months when the cost goes above the average.
Sometimes people tend to shy away from their budget when emergencies occur, such as car problems. The sooner you get past these incidents and get back on your budget the better.
One way to better anticipate such emergencies is to set up an emergency fund. To do this, first pay all necessary expenses and if there is money left over, add a portion of it to an emergency fund. Make sure this fund is used only for emergencies; when your regular income will not cover both your necessary expenses and any unexpected expenses.
Most people have negative feelings about budgeting because they think it’s restrictive and don’t enjoy penny pinching. Keeping a positive attitude about using a budget will help you to make it work.
A great way to help keep your spirits up when budgeting is to think of it as a spending plan to achieve your financial goals or you can even turn it into a game. Approaching budgeting like a game can provide a challenge where you are competing for a prize. The prize, of course, will be achieving financial freedom or at least gaining a sense of confidence about how you handle your money.
Many people assume a budget is only for those who either have a spending problem or experiencing a financial crisis. The truth is everyone should use a budget, no mater what their financial situation is. Here are 10 reasons why you should use a budget.
Would you ever go somewhere new without a map or set of directions? Probably not, right? Think of a budget as a roadmap, it sets a path for you to follow so that you can reach your destination, which is financial confidence.
For those who have a problem spending, a budget will help you get back in control of your money instead of letting your money control you. You will learn how to control yourself from impulse buying and overspending.
Money often plays a big role in most arguments between spouses. By using a budget, you and your spouse can get back on track and improve your financial situation, together!
A budget creates a financial plan that the whole family can work together on and contribute to. A family budget is a great way to work together as a family to achieve your financial goals.
There will be times when an emergency arises, catching you by complete surprise. A budget can be used to create an emergency fund so you won’t be left wondering what to do when such an insistence comes up.
A budget will help you to be more value and price conscious when shopping. It will also help you pay more attention to how you consume resources around the house, such as water, electricity, and gas.
With credit cards becoming common forms of payment, it is easy to fall into debt, and quickly! A budget can help you get out of debt. Plus, once you get out, you can continue using it to keep help keep out of debt.
If you are looking to save money, a budget is the perfect tool to help. A budget can be used to save for a goal, such as college or a new home, or used for a large expense, like a family vacation.
Wellness is not just about your physical health; it also includes your financial health too. Incorporating a budget into your everyday life can improve your financial health just as a diet can improve your physical health.
For many people, a personal finance is a stressful issue. Using a budget will give you the peace of mind so you aren’t left lying awake at night worrying about your financial situation.
Sticking to a budget can be a difficult task. It takes work, dedication, and discipline. But once you get the hang of it, budgeting becomes second nature. Here are some tips that will help you stick to your budget.
You should always have your budget with you; keep a copy in your wallet or purse. By doing this, you can record your spending as you shop, instead of filling it out later. This way there is no second guessing about how much you spent or how much you have left in your budget to spend.
Start each month by setting a small amount of money aside for yourself before paying off your other expenses. At the end of the month you can put this money into a savings account or use it to take care of any overages in your budget. Try setting up automatic deductions from your paycheck to make paying yourself easier. Also, set up direct deposit from your employer so that you aren’t tempted to spend the cash in your pocket.
You can make budgeting fun by being creative. Challenge yourself each month to reach or even go under your budget; make it a game. Set small goals to meet, like if you spend $200 on groceries on month, try to cut that cost by $10 the next month.
Prepaid debit cards offer an easy way to keep track of your spending since you can access your transactions online. Since prepaid debit cards don’t use credit, it’s just like using cash so you won’t need to worry about spending money you don’t have.
It may be a good idea to use cash instead of paying by plastic so you are not tempted to spend more than your budget. Just make sure you don’t carry around too much cash. Only carry what you intend on spending.
Instead of carrying around all your credit cards, just keep one with you in case of an emergency. You can avoid the temptation of putting things on credit by limiting the number of credit cards you carry around to only one.
Look for ways to reduce your expenses. You can even make this into a game by trying new methods and finding out which ones work best for you. This will make your budget more interactive, while challenging you to save more money.
If you have been following your budget correctly, allow yourself to a little treat. Treating yourself every now and again will ensure that you are not being overwhelmed by your budget. Think of it as a reward for a job well done.
Just like you would go to your family or friends for advice on your personal life, you can do the same for your budget. Since your family and friends know you better than most, they can offer suggestions to help improve your budget.
You can learn good habits by shopping with someone with better saving skills than you. Ask questions and pay attention to their shopping habits to learn new ways of improving your spending and budgeting skills. Think of them as a mentor for improving how you spend money.
Designate certain days to tackle different categories of your budget. This will help to create a routine as well as save money. For example, if you go grocery shopping on Tuesdays only, you can eliminate trips to the store. Less trips means less chances to overspend and less gas being used in your car.
Cheaper is not always better. When shopping, pay attention to the value of the item, not just the cost. Most of the time cheaper alternatives are produced from cheaper materials, resulting in you having to replace it more often. It is fine to be price conscious, just make sure you are not compromising value for cost.
One of the problems with budgeting is keeping track of your spending. For example, you may have forgotten if the shampoo you just bought cost $3.55 or $3.68. If you didn’t keep the receipt, just round up the cost to the nearest dollar.
The best way to motivate yourself into sticking to your budget is setting a goal for yourself. Setting a goal for your budget will give you something to work for and measure you progress against.
Just remember, “Nobody’s Perfect!” There may be months when you go over your budget or an unexpected expense comes up. Don’t let these kinds of dilemmas get you off focus. You can’t go forward if you are stuck dwelling on shortcomings.
When saving money or creating a budget, one of the most important steps is to keep your expenses as low as comfortably possible. Reducing your expenses will leave more money to be available for saving or putting toward debt. When reducing your expenses, you should avoid reducing your expenses to the point that your budget is causing discomfort to the way you live.
Below are suggestions to comfortably reduce your monthly expenses. Some of the suggestions may produce immediate savings, while others may take some time to notice any savings. Other suggestions may require you to spend money, but will provide a significant reduction in your expenses over time.
Turn Off Lights. Turn off any lights that you are not using. When you leave a room, turn off any unnecessary lights or lamps.
Unplug Electronics. Unplug any electronic devices you are not using. Leaving electronics plugged in when they aren’t being used wastes electricity, even if they are turned off.
Dust Off Lights. When cleaning your home, make sure to dust off light bulbs and fixtures. This removes any obstructions that may decrease the light output.
Open Your Drapes/Curtains. You can light your house during the day by opening your drapes or curtains. This will save you money from turning on lights during the daytime.
Use Florescent Lights. Change regular light bulbs to florescent (or halogen) lights whenever possible. They may cost a bit more than regular bulbs; however, the benefits will outweigh the cost. Florescent lights are 3 times more energy efficient, 4 times brighter, and last 10 times longer.
Redecorate Your Walls. If florescent lights are too expensive of an option, try decorating your walls in a light colored paint or wallpaper. The light color will make the room appear brighter, allowing you to use bulbs that emit up to 50 percent less light while still getting the same results of a dark colored room.
Maintain Your AC. A poorly maintained AC can affect the efficiency of your unit. The harder the unit works the more energy it will consume. Clear away any dirt or obstructions from the fan and check the Freon levels.
Check Your Insulation. A properly insulated home will lower your heat and cooling cost by stopping the air from escaping. You can do this by going into your attic to make sure insulation covers all the 2x4s.
Use a Programmable Thermostat. Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to reasonably set your thermostat while you are asleep or away from the house. As a rule of thumb, 65 degrees in the winter and 80 in the summer may be reasonable temperatures.
Check For Air Leaks. Check the windows and doors around your home for any air leaks. Using door sweeps or caulking to repair leaks will ensure the air in your home doesn’t escape.
Laundry Room Door. Keeping the laundry room door closed during the summer will prevent the dryer from heating up your home. In the winter, keep the door open to add a bit more heat.
Turn Off Ventilating Fans. When you are done with ventilating fan, like the ones in your kitchen or bathroom, make sure to turn them off. Leaving fans on when they are not being used wastes energy and can clear a room of heated or air conditioned air.
Keep Doors Closed. Keep the doors closed in rooms that are not being used. By keeping the doors closed in rooms you are not occupying, your heater or air conditioner will not have to work as hard. Closing your closet doors will also help save heating/ cooling costs.
Fireplace. If you have a fireplace but don’t use it, you may considerer getting it sealed or plugged. If you do use your fireplace, check the seal on the flue damper and adjust it to be as tight as possible.
Invest in Ceiling Fans. Ceiling fans will help save heating and cooling costs by circulating the air within a room.
Close Unused Heater Vents. Closing the vents in rooms you rarely use will save energy. Make sure your thermostat is not in a room that you closed the vents in because this will waste energy too.
Bathroom Sink. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, wash your hands, or shave. Approximately 4 gallons of water are wasted every minute the water is left running.
Fix Any Leaks. Look inside and around the house for any leaking faucets or pipes. Check if your toilet is leaking by adding non staining food coloring to the water tank. If the coloring flows into the toilet bowl then there is a leak.
Bathroom Shower. Save water by taking quicker showers. You can also save water by installing aerators or other water reduction kits on your showerhead and other faucets.
Washing Dishes. When hand washing dishes, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Instead, fill up both parts of your sink and use one for washing and the other for rinsing. For dirty pots and pans, instead of running them under the water to loosen heavy grime, fill them up with soap and water and let them soak for a couple of hours.
Thawing Food. Instead of using hot running water to thaw frozen food, try using the defrost setting on your microwave. You can also plan ahead by letting your food thaw out in the refrigerator or countertop.
Heating Water. Turning on your faucet and waiting for the water to heat up wastes water and energy. Installing a rapid-delivery hot water kit will make faucet water hot in less than 15 seconds.
Water Outside the House. You can save water outside the house by using a broom to clean of porches and sidewalks. If you have fountains or ponds in your garden area, make sure the pumps recycle water instead of running off of new water. You can also save water by watering your plants and lawn during the early morning or night to reduce evaporation from the heat of the sun.
Get an Energy Audit. Many power companies provide energy audits free of charge. Most companies will inspect your home to recommend ways to reduce your energy bill or provide informational booklets on saving energy. Contact your power company to see if they offer this service.
Get a Tankless Water Heater. Unlike regular water heaters, tankless water heaters don’t store water; instead, water is heated instantly when needed. Although a lot of energy is used when in use, the overall savings come from not having to heat your water 24/7, like a regular water heater does.
Dual Hot and Cold Faucets. If you have a dual hot and cold faucet, make sure the faucet is always turned on from the cold side. Turning on the water from the hot side, even for a few seconds, will waste energy by firing up the water heater.
Lower Your Water Heater. Lower the temperature on your water heater by a few degrees. This will save money on your energy bill and extend the life of your water heater.
Cooking For One. Using an electric pan, toaster oven, or microwave can save more energy than using an oven or stove if you are cooking for yourself.
Preheating Your Oven. A lot of energy is often wasted on preheating your oven. If you are cooking something for less than an hour, 5 minutes of preheating will do fine. For cooking times over an hour, preheating is unnecessary.
Heating Food. Try to use a microwave instead of a conventional oven to heat up food. Microwaves save up to 50% in energy costs when compared to ovens.
Off Peak Hours. Call your energy company to find out when their off peak hours are. By doing things around the house during off peak hours, you can save more money on your energy bill.
Consolidate Your Debt. If you have multiple credit cards, consider transferring the balances to the card with the lowest interest. Consolidating your debts can also avoid late fees because you will not have to worry about managing so many cards.
Lower Your Interest. You can lower the interest on a high interest credit card simply by calling up your credit card provider. If you are in good standing with your credit card company, you can usually negotiate a lower interest rate for your credit card.
0% Interest. Another way to lower the interest on a credit card is to take advantage of promotional offers from other credit card companies. Most companies offer new customers an introductory rate of 0% if they transfer a balance from another credit card.
Avoid Late Fees. The best way to avoid late fees is to make the minimal payment as soon as you receive your credit card bill. If you have more money to add to your credit card at the end of the month, you can make an additional payment for the month, which takes more money off your debt.
Use a Prepaid Debit Card. Use a prepaid debit card to pay for monthly expenses instead of a credit card. Each month, load your card with the amount you budgeted for your expenses. By using a prepaid card instead of a credit card, you will prevent overspending because you are only using the amount you set aside for your expenses.
Clean Your Lint Tray. Cleaning the lint tray each time before you use the dryer will ensure proper air flow. This will cut down the drying time and extend the life of the dryer.
Don’t Overload. Overloading your dryer doesn’t allow enough space for the clothes to properly tumble, which increases the time needed to dry.
Separate Your Clothes. Separate delicates from garments made of heavier fabrics. Drying the delicates first will prevent overheating and save energy.
Hang Dry. In the summer, try and hang dry your clothes, outside or in the bathroom, instead of using the dryer. This will save energy and lower the temperature in your home. Even if your clothes are still damp after hang drying, you will still save energy from partially drying them outside the dryer.
Use Gas Instead of Electric. Gas dryers are much more energy efficient than electric dryers. Installation costs may also be cheaper too.
Use an Extra Spin. Heavier items like jeans and towels retain more water than regular garments. Putting them through an extra spin cycle will cut down the drying time.
Throw in a Towel. You can absorb more moisture from heavier items by adding a clean dry towel to the dryer. This can cut the drying time by 25%.
Use the Right Temperature. Make sure you read the labels on your garments to ensure you are using the right temperature when drying them. Too much heat will waste energy as well as damage the garments.
Check Outside Dryer Vent. Check your outside dryer vent for any lint clogs or other obstructions. Any obstructions to the air flow will increase the drying time and lessen the life of the dryer.
Use Cold Water. Use cold water during a rinse cycle, as hot or warm water does not affect the rinse. Also, use cold or warm water whenever possible to avoid wasting energy.
Pre-soak Clothes. If your clothes aren’t clean enough after a warm or cold wash, try using a warm water pre-soak. A pre-soak will loosen dirt from clothes, especially heavy soiled ones, before they wash while helping to eliminate the need for hot water.
Only Wash a Full Load. Washing a full load will cost more energy than washing multiple smaller loads. If you can’t make a full load, make sure to set your washer to the correct load size to save energy.
Don’t Use Too Much Detergent. Most laundry loads can be washed by using a fraction of the recommended detergent amount.
Don’t Over Wash. Laundry items should be washed accordingly to how much they are soiled and the material they are made of.
Position of Your Washing Machine. Position your washing machine as close to the water heater as possible. The closer your machine is to the water heater, the less amount of heat is lost in the pipes.
Insulate Exposed Pipes. Insulating any exposed pipes from your washing machine to your water heater lower the amount of heat that escapes from the pipes.
Use a Front-load Washer. Front-loading washers are more energy efficient than top-load washers because they leave less water in the clothes.
Eliminate Dry Cycle. Instead of using the dry cycle on your dishwasher try hand drying your dishes or let them drip dry. If you must use your dishwasher to dry your dishes, use the air dry setting instead. You can eliminate the dry cycle by resetting the setting on your dishwasher or stopping it after the rinse cycle.
Wash a Full Load. Try to use your dishwasher only when it is full. Most of the cost from running a dishwasher comes from heating the water. Washing a full load of dishes will save more energy than washing several smaller ones.
Avoid Rinse Hold. If your dishwasher has a rinse hold setting, avoid using it. Rinse hold typically uses an extra 3 to 7 gallons of hot water for each wash.
Eliminate Pre-Rinse. Many new dishwashers eliminate the need to pre-rinse dishes before they are put into the dishwasher. If your dishes are heavily soiled you may think of pre-soaking the dishes in detergent to loosen the grime before you put them in the dishwasher.
Choose the Shortest Wash Cycle. Using a wash cycle that is longer than what is needed will waste energy. When picking a wash cycle consider the size of the load and how dirty the dishes are.
Other Settings. If your dishwasher has an energy saving or economy setting, use it. These settings are there to save you money.
Thawing Frozen Foods. The cold from the frozen food will help the refrigerator work less to regulate the inside temperature.
Position of Your Refrigerator. Place your refrigerator away from any heat sources, such as a dishwasher or oven. Also, avoid placing your refrigerator under a skylight or anywhere else in the path of direct sunlight. Positioning your refrigerator in such places can cause the compressor to work harder, which wastes more energy.
Clearance Around Your Refigerator. Make sure there is enough clearance around your refrigerator for air to circulate and heat to disperse. At least two inches around your refrigerator will provide enough clearance to operate properly.
Wait for Food to Cool. Wait for food to cool off before putting it into the refrigerator. Hot food will increase the temperature in the refrigerator, making it work harder to get back to the right temperature.
Set the Right Temperature. Make sure your refrigerator is not set too low. The refrigerator should be set between 36°F-40°F and the freezer between 0°F-5°F.
Defrost. Make sure you regularly defrost your manual-defrost refrigerator and freezer. Allowing frost to build more than 1/4 inch in either will waste energy by lowering the effectiveness of the unit.
Check Door Seals. Check the seal around your refrigerator and freezer to make sure the inside air is not leaking through. If you notice or suspect the seals are not working properly, add some Vaseline around them to ensure a good seal.
Think Before Opening. Avoid keeping the door of your refrigerator or freezer open while deciding what you are looking for, this will make your unit work harder from allowing cold are to escape. Think about what you need before opening the door and keep it open as short as possible.
Clean Your Condenser. Clean the condenser on your refrigerator as often as possible by removing any dirt or dust. A clean condenser will ensure the proficiency of your refrigerator.
Capacity. Make sure not to over pack your refrigerator and keep your freezer filled. Over packing your refrigerator will not allow proper air circulation while a filled freezer will increase its efficiency.
Use the Internet to Communicate. Instead of paying to call or send a letter, consider using the Internet to send an email or instant message.
Consolidate Your Communication. Instead of paying separate bills, find a company that provides all your communication needs. Usually for a discounted price, you can find a company that provides service for Internet, cell phones and landline telephone service all into one bill.
Reconsider Telemarketers. Instead of hanging up on solicitors asking you to switch over your telephone service, reconsider their offer. Telemarketers can often offer you a better price on your telephone service than you are already paying.
Shop Around. At least once a year, compare the price you are paying for your cell phone, house phone and Internet with prices from other companies. Some companies may even offer you an additional discount just for switching.
Evaluate Your House Phone Bill. Evaluate the features on your phone bill. Check to see if there are any features that you are not using or rarely using, such as call forwarding or call waiting. Eliminating these extra features may lower your phone bill.
Evaluate Your Cell Phone Bill. Evaluate your cell phone bill to see if there are any extra features you may not be using or rarely using, such as text messaging. You may also want to evaluate the number of minutes you use each month. If the number of minutes you use each month is much less than the minutes available on your plan, you may consider changing your phone plan.
Cell Phone or House Phone. If you have a cell phone and a house phone, you may want to monitor how much you use each of the phones. If you are using your cell phone much more than your house phone, or vise versa, you may consider choosing one instead of having the two.
Create a List. Make a list before you go grocery shopping. This will ensure you only get what you need and eliminate any guessing.
Don’t Shop on an Empty Stomach. Shopping on an empty stomach will cause you to buy things you don’t need because you are hungry. Make sure to have a snack or meal before you shop for groceries.
Check Your Receipt. Make sure your receipt is correct, especially if you buy items on sale. Computer scanners are only as accurate as the person programming them. Sometimes sale items are not put into the system or prices are inputted incorrectly.
Buy Meat in Bulk. You can save a lot of money by buying meat in bulk when it is on sale. Separate the meat into dinner sized portions and save in the freezer for future dinners.
Don’t Buy Too Much. Avoid buying to much of something just because it is on sale, especially perishable items. Only buy as much as you feel you will use. This goes for bulk items, which tend to be priced higher than normally packaged food. If you don’t anticipate using such a large quantity, go for a smaller amount.
Avoid Convenience Stores. Convenience stores such as the local corner store often have much higher prices then grocery stores. These stores provide a convenience because they are usually closer than grocery stores and open for longer hours.
Consolidate Your Shopping Trips. Try shopping once a week. By planning ahead you can create a list for the week of groceries you will need. Too many trips to the store will waste gas and lead to buying more than you need.
Compare Prices. There is not much difference between a $3.00 can of beans and $1.00 can of beans. Just because a food item is more expensive doesn’t mean it is a better quality, most of the time you are just paying for the brand name. Consider generic or store brands.
Position on Shelves. Items placed at eye level are often more expensive than those placed on the top and bottom shelves. Pay attention to these out of view items for better prices.
Use Coupons. Check your local newspaper for coupons on food. When shopping with coupons, only use coupons for food items you intend on using. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon.
Use Leftovers. Be creative when cooking. If you make hamburgers for dinner one night, you can use the leftovers to make Sloppy Joes and a salad the next day. You can save money and waste less food by reusing leftovers.
Bring Your Lunch. You can save money by bringing your lunch to work instead of eating out. Consider packing leftovers from the previous night to create a tasty and unique lunch. If you do decide to eat out, try choosing a place with daily specials, as they are usually cheaper than other menu items.
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