Welcome to Frugal Living Friday! Each week I will feature a tip that can help us stretch our budget and live more frugally! If you have a tip that you want shared on Frugal Living Friday, let me know and you could become a guest blogger for a day.
Face it...there are LOTS of deals out there to be had. As couponers and deal finders, we all love the rush we get when we get freebies and deals. Who doesn't like it? Saving some cash feels so good!
However, if you are not careful, you can find yourself overspending and wasting money...even as a couponer and deal finder. You need to set limits for yourself. Use a budget.
After doing this for several years myself, I have found the following steps to be helpful for me and my family:
1. Set a budget. Decide what you can spend every month on groceries, food storage, household goods, etc. and stick to it. I allow a little bit of leeway room if there is a great stock up sale, but you have to be careful. If there is a week left in the month and you have already spent your allotted amount, use what is in your pantry or food storage and be creative! We only have so much money and I refuse to use my credit card when I know I can overspend. So I try to purchase enough at the stock up sales to get us through to the next sale.
2. Don't overspend on credit. I never use my credit cards on a regular basis. We tried it once....putting all our expenses on our credit card to earn more points. It didn't work for us. I ended up overspending and I had a more difficult time tracking my money. If using your credit card works for you, then just make sure you pay it off in full every month.
3. Keep track of where your money is going. Doing this is the only way you will know if you are really saving money on all those deals. Keep track of incoming and outgoing expenditures. I use Quicken, but there are many other kinds of financial software available for you to use. I review my spending and saving at least twice a month so I know where I am at. I am big on savings too. Every month I set aside an allotted amount for dental work, vision care, (we don't have dental or vision insurance) and auto insurance. That way when I have to purchase contacts, go to the dentist and pay my car insurance I already have that money set aside. If you would like to try out Quicken, you can. Use the Quicken Online Edition – Try it out for free!
4. Don't compare yourself to others. Every family has different expenses and income, so don't feel bad if you only got 10 boxes of cereal at the last sale and your friend got 30. Just do what you can and what your family needs. Couponing for you needs to fit your mold, so just concentrate on what you need.
5. Don't buy things you won't use. If you know you most likely will not use a certain item or kinds of food, don't buy it. Just because something is free doesn't mean you have to buy it. Sometimes I do buy things I know I won't use because I give them away to family, the food bank, or humanitarian drives. But on a whole I try to stick to that rule. I would say about 90% of what I buy we use. The other 10% I donate. I want my money to go for what I can use the most. Plus, I need to save my limited space for what I really need.