I have long believed that if you don’t control your money it will surely control you. And, being a Type A personality, I definitely want to be in control. It is my goal each month to tell my dollars where to go; I own them, they don’t own me.
That means that yes, I manage a pretty strict monthly budget. I diligently log our family’s income, outline projected expenses, and plan for those pesky surprises best I can. At least I did.
The pandemic kind of did a number on, well, my numbers.
We were home more so I grocery shopped more, adding extra sweets and fancy cheeses and all the beverages to my curbside pick up. I spent much too much time online in the evenings, wishing the old world back … and shopping. Basically, I let loose.
My once tidy and practically perfected budget found itself blowing up month after month. Have you been there? I think we have all had seasons like this. Right? And it’s usually not one big thing. Often, it’s a handful of little, hidden expenses that throw a budget into a down spiral.
Pause. Think. Assess. Maybe even print your last month and go at it with a highlighter. What is blowing your budget? It may be one of these sneaky little charges …
Savor one, then be done
One drink is enough – coffee, cocktail, smoothie – savor one and skip the extra you think you might need but actually don’t. (This can help your waistline as well as your wallet!)
Skip the drive thru
Whether it be a fancy coffee or a special soda, buy nice creamers /milks for home or the canned version of your special soda from the grocery store instead. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll save over the course of 30 days, potentially $100+. Double that if you get your spouse on board.
Walk by the sale rack
It might be on sale, but guess what, you’re still spending money. If you wouldn’t buy that sweater at regular price, you definitely don’t need it just because it’s on sale.
Assess your digital content
Books and music and movies, oh my! Out of sight, out of mind is a true curse and by auto subscribing to products and services we often lose track of what we have. Assess your digital library and make sure you are actually using and enjoying what you have. It’s probably likely that you can pause one or more of those sneaky monthly charges.
Gift more moderately
Kids love a few dollars of their own to shop with and adults truly believe that it is the thought that counts. Get the gift line item in check – be generous with your love, not necessarily your pocketbook.
Downscale your streaming services
Is it really possible to keep up with everything on Hulu, Netflix, Starz, YouTube Premium and every other streaming option? Consider picking just one and diving into all it offers. You’ll save and finally get through some of those seasons you have been meaning to watch.
DIY one thing
Have you outsourced too much? Hair, nails, lawn, housecleaning, car washes … these services all add up. Pick one and opt to DIY it for a few months.
Our inboxes get inundated with sale announcements constantly. Take 10 seconds and rather than clicking delete (or worse, clicking through!), find the unsubscribe button and remove that shopping temptation.
Embrace second-hand goods
If you love that sale-high, find it by shopping second hand for the things you need. Facebook Marketplace has been a gem for me lately – I found a like-new kitchen appliance that probably saved me $200 overall!
Timing is everything
Do not shop late at night, from your phone, or with a glass of wine in your hand. At least those are my boundaries. I can fill my cart all I want, but I never hit the checkout button in those circumstances. In the morning or in a few days if it’s still on my radar I’ll return with a sound mind and finalize my decision. Saves me hundreds.
It is a learned skill to be content with what you have. Stuff will not bring you happiness. When you feel tempted to buy your worth or joy, choose to practice gratitude. Start a journal of simple one liners listing all you have to be thankful for.