Howdy! It’s a new month and we’ve got money on the brain. I don’t write about the “small budget” part of Smallish often. I probably avoid the subject because I feel so unqualified to approach it. We, um, are not very disciplined in sticking to our budget.
Lately we have been treating our budget like The Code in Pirates of the Caribbean—a loose set of guidelines, really. Oh, we are very good at setting the budget. Every time our income changes we map out carefully where each dollar will go, but as months flow by, money flows out of unanticipated areas just as quickly.
Spontanteous dinner out with family? Yes! We’re in!
Ohhh! A Farmer’s Market! We obviously need more produce.
Ooops. Forgot that activity was starting up this month.
Coffee date with favorite neighbor? Absolutely. $4 ain’t no thang for now.
The dollars sprout wings and fly away faster than a hummingbird following a honey wagon. This month, we are DONE flouncing through finances.
This month, we are DONE flouncing through finances.
We are going to own September, money-wise. Caveman and I went over the biggest ways we let our money get out of hand (hah! yes, literally!) and brainstormed how to drop-kick our own unbudgeted spending. This post is for us today, folks. Hopefully these suggestions will encourage you too.
Without further ado…..
Five Ways to Drop-kick Unbudgeted Spending
1 | Look ahead and budget accordingly
Budgets and calendars are like butter and scones; you can’t do one without the other. Look up; look ahead at the next month and budget accordingly. Get the calendar out when you set the budget. Which activities are starting? What membership balances are due? When is date night? Will you be bringing a meal to anyone? How many birthday parties will you be attending? We tried to allot the correct amount of money for this actual month. We’ll be much more likely to hit our target when it is tailored for a specific time frame.
2 | Go over receipts with spouse daily
The days are busy. If you’re like us, it’s all too easy to mention “Oh, I spent $17 today on that thing for the car” and then forget all about which line-item actually covered the expense until the end of the month when we’re supplementing accounts with a rescue-sum. Whoops. This month, we’re keeping receipts. Then every evening (if we can) we will do a budget check and tally up the day’s outgoing money. This way we’ll stay on top of the amount going out—and where it’s going.
3 | Check accounts online daily
In a continuation of #1… while you’re having the receipt meeting, log in and look at your bank accounts online. Do the ‘ol checkbook balance. Move money between accounts as needed. We went one step further and signed up for Mint, a free service that tracks spending and provides pretty visuals to give you perspective of just how out-of-hand that coffee habit is. Keep a close eye on accounts and discover where you’re most likely to splurge. Once we know our weak spots (Target? New books for the Kindle?), we’ll be able to counter-act the temptation.
4 | Get extra cash by selling things
I have several friends who are really great at selling unnecessary items online and then using that cash for special things the budget couldn’t fit. One friend puts the Craigslist Cash in an envelope specifically for a date night. Another friend uses the cash for kids’ extracurricular activities. Me? I’m not very good at selling things online. I’d just as soon donate it to get the junk out.of.my.house.now. But the extra spending money would be welcome, so this month I’m going to try to list a few things to sell. Who knows? Maybe I’ll make enough to take that handsome husband of mine out…
5 | Say no. Just say no to unbudgeted spending
It might be a no brainer, but a list on unbudgeted spending wouldn’t be complete without this gem of a tip: just don’t spend it! Before you click “purchase” or hand over that card, ask yourself:
Do I truly need it?
Can this item wait until next month?
Do I already own something that could fulfill the same purpose?
Is there something of equal value that I could sell to acquire this thing without breaking the budget?
Chances are good that if you wait a few days to buy the item, you’ll find that it wasn’t as necessary as you initially thought. If saying “no” is proving too hard at the moment, just say “wait.” You might end up with the same result. 🙂
So there’s our plan to drop-kick unbudgeted spending this month. And hopefully every month to follow.
What do you think? Would you add any other ways to stick to the budget? Comment and spill them below!
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