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Do you struggle to stick to a budget? Do you find yourself drawing out an awesome game plan only to break your budget the first time something unexpected comes up?
If so, this plan is for you.
You see, it’s easy to get determined to stick to a budget and get your finances in order, but during the course of the month you: remember a birthday you forgot about, agree to go out with friends after work, encounter a car or home repair that demands money you didn’t budget for…or any number of other unexpecteds that are designed to test your budgeting skills.
What’s the solution??
First, focus on just one area that will make a huge impact. Instead of trying to tackle every area of your budget at once, pick just one.
That’s right, I’m telling you to ignore all of your other expenses and focus on just one area.
Take a look back at your checking account or credit card statements for the last month or two.
Chances are, you already know which expense is the right one to focus on. It’s almost always food. Almost all other expenses are more or less fixed. Food is a huge variable and one that is easy to tackle and can make a HUGE difference.
Create a Target
In our case, our plan of attack was our food budget. It gets seriously out of control – especially when we’re traveling.
We were spending $1,000 a month minimum on food. This includes groceries, restaurants, and convenience store purchases. Some people will think that’s outrageous and others will think that’s low. I’ve seen grocery/restaurant budgets at all ends of the spectrum.
For our family of four – my husband and I, our 2 year old, and our 8 month old – we cut our budget to a $450, That means if we change nothing else will be saving at least $550.
Maintain Your Focus
Don’t focus on the other expenses but don’t be surprised if they start to drop.
Is your grocery store or favorite restaurant next to other stores you love to shop at?
Ours too. This is a huge perk because –
When we focus on cutting our food cost in half, we end up eating out less. This means we’re eating at home more and consequently we aren’t out at other shops to spend money.
I’ve talked before about how we broke our addiction to eating out, but it’s really tough to stick to that sometimes because we’re on the road so much for Scotty’s (my husband’s) job.
When we make it such a priority to cut back on food expenses though – it becomes sort of a game or challenge for us. We find ways to save money on food because it’s the one and only expense we’re focusing on minimizing.
Why This Works
What you’re doing by picking just one area of your budget to cut back is taking a big step in the right direction. What good is the best planned budget if you’re not motivated to follow through?
Cutting back on just food (or whatever your drug of choice is) is still allowing you to go get your nails done, keep your gym membership, and any other expense you currently have.
You get your mindset on track to be more frugal in one area, and it inevitably spills over into the others. You’re “allowed” to go get that manicure, but there’s a good chance you’ll choose not to because you’re used to being more frugal.
You magically get inspired to cut things out of your budget in other areas to achieve your financial goals faster.
Soo…what do you think? Will it be easier to stick to a budget when you’re only worrying about one expense? What frugal tips do you have for others struggling to stick to a budget? Let me know in the comments!
Tools that might help:
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