Track, compare, revise, repeat. Track, compare, revise, repeat.
This seems to be my monthly mantra when it comes to budgeting. I think I fair pretty well staying on-track for the most part, but there’s always room for improvement! Looking closely at my budget, there are certain things that seem to bust it every time. Some of the most common “budget busters” seem to revolve around food, travel, and bad habits.
Let’s compare the busters:
I’m sure I’m not the only one that occasionally spends too much in this category. It’s all too easy to grab something pre-made from the deli or visit a local dive after work. However, over the course of the past year or so, we’ve gotten much better about eating at home.
The fix: Instead of a hodge-podge of random items in the kitchen, we plan meals on the weekends and shop accordingly. Left overs get saved for the next day’s lunch or the following day’s dinner.
Smoking, drinking, and coffee seem to suck the cash from my account and leave a black hole of inebriation. A warm summer night and a cold one on the patio are just what the doctor ordered, no? One drink or two is just fine, but pounding six-packs, not so much. The idea of moderation comes in handy, not only for health but for finances, too.
The fix: A visit to Starbucks is now a treat and not an every day occurrence. I make my own coffee for less than half of what I was spending. We now buy beer only at sales prices with moderation stretching out the time between purchases. And as for smoking, well, “we’ve” gotten it down to e-smokes and a pipe (slightly healthier, less expensive options).
Some people live for traveling and work towards that goal, but for me it’s more of a treat. Since it’s so irregular, it’s something I rarely plan for financially and that gets me into trouble. I know that we usually visit family once or twice a year and plan one or two camping trips as well. Camping is fairly inexpensive, but visiting our family isn’t.
The fix: Plan ahead…way ahead. Begin saving a set amount early in the year to make the trips more affordable, or just don’t go…say, “No.” Planning ahead also eliminates the stress of stretching dollars when a trip does pop up. I’m still working on this one.
What budget busters are you working on getting under control?