Tips of MY trade :)

As I think I mentioned, I'm probably going to posting some tips that've come in really handy for my budget.  Its kind of like a diet that's supposed to work - changing your lifestyle, not just adjusting for a couple months then going back to the same old same old.  That said, I'm doing a lot of reading and research trying to find some kind of foot in the door to financial literacy.

That said, some tips of my trade :

1  If I didn't post this before, please use some of these sites for awesome recipes that don't cost a ton!  I make one thing for lunches for the week - sometimes a soup, chili, pasta dish, etc.  Then typically I eat cereal or a really light wrap for dinner.

2  I have a running list of things that I need or will need soon around my house - toothpaste, face wash, paper towels, detergent, etc.  I take that list with me to the store each week, so that if something is on sale I know its a good time to buy it.  I don't believe in stocking-up in bulk (12 tubes of toothpaste?  Stop.) because I think coupons and bulk generally end up costing me more out of impulse shopping than the regular price normally would.

3  I have cut back on my monthly fixed expenses more than I thought possible.

  • Cable? No.  I use hulu and netflix and online (free) episides - total cost? $9 / month
  • Internet?  This is where I don't play around.  I have internet, but it is not wireless and it is the cheapest (aside from dial-up) that RCN offers - about $30 / month.
  • Cell phone?  This is a touchy subject.  Yes, I do have an iPhone, which isn't exactly the cheapest way to go.  But living in Chicago I use it for everything.  Where you might have a GPS, I have the phone.  Where you just run errands in a car, I use the bus tracker to get from A to B.  It is my guilty pleasure / constantly self-justified luxury.
  • Groceries.  I budget $100 / month for groceries.  Sometimes it's $13 / week, sometimes it's $30.  Depends.  But I make a list, shop at a combination of 3 stores for the best prices (including Aldi - best prices ever.) and am really, really strict about it.
  • Clothes?  I don't buy many but am learning to alter the ones that I have.  Some pants have a weird fit, a skirt is too long, a sweater thats missing a button.  I have a sewing machine and am promising myself that I will increase my wardrobe from within my wardrobe.
  • Eating out?  Huge expense.  I used to spend hundreds of dollars a month on quick meals out.  In this city, where it takes me 30-60 minutes to get back to my apartment when I'm out and about, stopping in for something on the go is SO tempting.  Trick : I set a budget, more so for frequency than for expense.  I allow myself to eat out once per week, and try to keep that to $10 or less.  If I don't use that $10 that week, I don't blow it on something stupid next week.  I put it straight towards my debt.  

I'm not saying that keeping a budget is easy, and I'm still new to the extreme version of it - about three months now - but I will say it involves A LOT of focus and self-discipline.

People say "everyone has their own priorities."  True.  Mine is not to become the richest girl in America. It's to travel - as much as I possibly can as soon as I possibly can.  But I realized recently that I could not, in good conscience, continue to spend money I don't have while owing money to several people on traveling just because it made me happy.

Thats all - sorry this was a long one - the next won't be, I promise!
"Budget"Kelley BozarthComment