I constantly hear my friends talking about how they have a hard time sticking to their budgets. I have written countless columns about the proper ways to shop, to use coupons and how to shop with a purpose. However, my friends still complain that they experience difficulties.
The biggest thing I would recommend is not to be tempted. A perfect example of this happened to me the other day. My friend invited my preschool-age son to play at a playground inside an area mall. She said that she wanted to have a picnic with the kids and some time to play.
The playground area was placed next to one of my favorite restaurants and next to a really cool toy store. I knew this automatically would be a challenge for me. I knew that if I brought my wallet I would be tempted to purchase the food at the restaurant and that my son would want to shop at the toy store.
I solved this problem rather simply. I packed lunch for my son and myself and I simply didn’t carry my wallet inside the mall. By not carrying my wallet, I left no room for temptation.
Although I salivated at the smell coming from my favorite restaurant, I happily chumped on my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, grapes and yummy dessert and knew in my heart I could not purchase the food. My friend decided to purchase her food at the restaurant. She got a great deal, spending $15 for her family. However, $15 is extremely expensive in comparison to the price of my packed lunch.
I also have found a successful way to not to be tempted to go to the grocery store unless I absolutely have to. During the summer, I participated in a little experiment. I hung my grocery store totals for the month on my refrigerator. With the bill staring me in the face, it made me really think hard before making frivolous purchases. My husband currently stores our expenses on a computer program. This allows our family to see how much we are spending every single month and on what. Again, when you are looking at what you are spending, it makes you really think about going out and spending more.
Finally, if you still have a hard time sticking to a budget at the store, I always have recommended carrying cash to the store. Set the amount you want to spend at the store, carry that amount to the store in cash and do not carry any credit cards. This is the easiest way to stick to your budget.
Do you have tips on saving money? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can find more ways to save money on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/frugalfamilycolumn.