5 Budgeting Hacks You Can't Do Without
Parenthood and adulthood in general is heavily focused on finances. We all have to earn, spend, and (try to) save money. Reaching financial goals tomorrow comes down to how you manage your money today.
When we've got kids to feed, clothe, and care for, there's definitely an added challenge to making the budget work. So here's 5 tips you'll want to write down!
1. Put the coupons away.
Didn't see that one coming, did you? This isn't necessarily true for everyone but it is for the majority. Saving money feels good. Handing the cashier that $2 off coupon is always triumphant. However, if you wouldn't have bought that item without the coupon - you played yourself.
Let me explain, if you normally wouldn't buy that fancy pasta sauce but there's a coupon which makes the $2.98 jar only $0.98, you buy it. You didn't save $2, you spent $0.98. Maybe your family will use it and that's great. But did you have to go buy other things you normally wouldn't to make use of it? There's more waste. Is there a different brand for $0.77? Yup. You see what I'm saying.
If you love coupons, you don't have to give them up. Instead, make your list first, then go through the coupons. If you find one that works, awesome! If not, oh well. Don't add things to the list just because there's a deal!
2. If you don't need it, don't buy it.
I know, duh! But it's actually harder than it sounds. Especially when it comes to our kids, we fail at this one. Our children have a closet full of clothes but suddenly we see the CUTEST outfit on the clearance rack. It's only $4 after all. All fine and good until that happens 10 times and we have way too many outfits and spent $40 we didn't need to. Get what you need, leave it if you don't need it. Things aren't the best measure of happiness or love.
3. Stop with the "only"s and "just"s.
How often do you impulsively buy things and find yourself saying, "It's only $1" or "it's just a bit more expensive." Stop that! Yes, today it's only $1 but if you make a habit of it, suddenly your house is full of onlys and justs and your bank account is down $70. The occasional treat is fine but stop justifying purchases because of the low price. The price doesn't matter, if you're forming this habit, you're wasting your money.
4. You deserve the best price.
If you're not already shopping at a store that allows price matching - SWITCH. Many chains will now price match if you find a lower advertised price on an identical product. Once you've found a store that does, download an app like Flipp or Reebee so you can easily search through all the local flyers to find the best prices and easily present them to the cashier.
Some tips: Any flyer you bring needs to have the date showing (be aware of flyers that are 2 or 3 day sales instead of the whole week or you might be disappointed.) Also, you can only price match EXACT items so pay attention to brand and size. Some places do not price match meat and most that do will require you to do it in the meat department, not at the register. Also be aware of your store's policies. Most have quantity limits and all will enforce the quantity limit on the flyer if applicable (that being said if the store says only 4 of a price matched item and the ad says limit of 6 - it's still 4. Lowest policy wins.) Many stores will also only allow price matching with local stores (you know, the actual competition.) Most importantly, be respectful to the cashiers handling this. Price matching is more work for them and they're just trying to do things correctly!
5. Monthly meets are a must!
It's pretty standard advice to make a budget for your household but if you're not checking in, what's the point? Make sure you and your spouse (or just you, if you're single) are sitting down at the end of every month to discuss the budget. Add up everything you've spent (hold onto receipts!) and make sure you've accounted for every dime. Make sure you have added up all your income as well. Then see how you're doing.
Is there an area you're WAY over budget? Look into it and figure out why. Decide if you need to allocate more funds to that area. Is there an area you're consistently way under budget? How can those budget dollars be better used? Finances are often an ever changing situation so staying up to date is essential.
These tips are simple and no, they won't necessarily change your life and turn your finances around but they're easy ways to save some cash and improve your accountability. Managing finances is an ongoing learning process and we can all use all the help we can get. Make every dollar matter so that you can achieve your goals and help your family succeed.