General chatter - Help with budget division!!!




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missunshine
12-01-2013, 10:34 AM
Hi guys,
I need help with my budget. How do you divide your budget while on diet which includes groceries, gym, going out, bills, rent,...any tips on how to save as much money as possible are welcome. :^:


nelie
12-01-2013, 10:51 AM
Have you ever done a budget? You might want to look at some books at the library that could help you.

Obviously you have to look at your income vs your expenses. First expenses you look at are the critical ones, including rent/mortgage, utility bills, transportation (public or gas/insurance) and what not. You should save at least 10% of your income for unexpected expenses. If you have any debt, that should be a priority to pay down. Then you look at what else you have and put reasonable numbers to everything including groceries, eating out, entertainment, gym, etc, etc. If your planned expenses outweigh your available money for those expenses then you have to do a little juggling.

Once you figure out your budget, then you have to work to stick to it.

souvenirdarling
12-01-2013, 11:18 AM
If anyone has advice for *sticking* to a budget, or creating a more realistic one, I'd appreciate it too.


nationalparker
12-01-2013, 08:18 PM
I think a key is to see exactly where your funds are going now. That will help you understand where you might be spending extra that you can switch to debt paydown or for emergency use. Don't count on using anything leftover for your savings - take that out first. Even if it's just a bit - you can always increase it when you're in the habit of saving. Regardless of your budgetary choices, make sure you have renter's insurance - so often overlooked. Not many people can afford to start out from nothing all over...

Maybe instead of spending money on "going out" if you have a regular group of friends that hang out and most are in a similar financial situation, you could hang at each other's home and make healthy food with new recipes, and turn that into the social aspect some times. It used to be easier for me to budget for that rather than spending more than I should when out with friends and then cutting in another area.

Don't forget personal care and home care - laundry detergent, cleaning products, personal hygiene products, etc.

Good luck!

seabiscuit
12-01-2013, 08:43 PM
Hi! I've created budgets on Excel, it helps for me to see them in a spreadsheet. I don't stick to my budget, I definitely should but I try to limit purchases such as spending at coffee shops, getting my hair or nails done, not purchasing too many snacks at the grocery stores, etc. Also, I find that coupons can be helpful, I saved $8 on Saturday at my grocery store!!! I use my supermarket rewards card, it deducts whatever is on sale, that is a big savings too. This is the holiday season and I am trying to not buy very expensive gifts, I want people to feel appreciated and get nice gifts but I don't want to go overboard.

Good luck!

Wannabeskinny
12-02-2013, 08:54 AM
The first thing you should do is figure out how much money you are spending now. Once you understand where your weaknesses are then you can start to curb your habits.

So I did this by carrying around with me a very small notebook and wrote down every penny I spent. I would devote a whole page to one day. It would look something like this.

Coffee - 1.75
Breakfast- 4.19
Gas -37.50
Parking -2.00
Bottled water - 1.50
Lunch - 6.82
Tolls - 6.00
Groceries - 65.23
Beauty - 3.70
Entertainment - 4.99

So as you can see, on this particular day, I left for work and got myself a cup of coffee, then a bit of breakfast. Then I went to the gas station and filled up my tank, then went to work and parked my car. At some point at work I got a bottle of water. Then I went for lunch. Driving home I went through a toll booth and headed straight for the grocery store. I also bought a bottle of shampoo (Beauty product). Then I went home, probably ate some of the groceries and rented a movie on demand (Entertainment).

At the end of the month I went through and tallied up all the money I spent on coffee, on gas, on entertainment etc and put them on a spreadsheet. When I looked at how much money I was spending on coffee I bought myself a coffee container and made my own coffee. When I saw how much money I was spending on tolls I signed up for EZ pass. When I saw how much money I was spending on bottled seltzer i bought myself a Sodastream. It's only by learning HOW you spend money that you can then start to change your habits.

EagleRiverDee
12-02-2013, 02:38 PM
When I do my budget, I generally split it up by fixed expenses that are unchangeable (IE rent, car payment), variable expenses (IE groceries), and then discretionary expenses (money you don't have to spend but can if you want to).

Your savings goal should be in the fixed category, if possible.

In the event of a cash crunch, discretionary expenses should be nixed first. Variable expenses should be cut second - IE, you may have to go for less expensive groceries for a month until you get caught up.

Using a computer program like Quicken is helpful. I just do my budgets in a spreadsheet, but Quicken does a good job of graphing out your spending so you can see it visually.

If overspending is a problem for you, my suggestion would be leave your credit cards and most cash at home when you leave each day. Then if you want to spend money, you have to go home first to get your credit cards or more cash, and often times the moment of temptation is lost and by the time you get home you just want to stay there. I use a similar trick when traveling, leaving most cash and my credit cards in the hotel safe - then if I want to spend money I have to go up to my room. It generally gives me time to think about if I really want to spend the money and usually by the time I get to my room I don't. Most of my overspending is impulse purchases, so if I succeed in delaying it my right brain kicks in and I don't make the purchase.

It may take you a while to refine your budget. As another poster mentioned, you have to know what you're spending now before you can really make changes. If you're spending electronically, you can pull up your account history and figure it out now. If you've been spending cash, you'll need to start tracking your spending so you can see where the money is going.

Consider having an impartial 3rd party look at your budget also, and ask them to give you constructive criticism. Many times something we see as a necessity they will see as discretionary. That morning coffee that you can't live without...could you get by with drip instead of a latté? That sort of thing.

ERHR
12-02-2013, 02:56 PM
You've gotten a ton of great advice already in this thread - I second the tracking (I use Mint.com), accountability, prioritization of fixed vs. variable vs. variable discretionary expenses, etc. After your track your variable expenses for a while you should be able to notice areas that you can cut back in for whatever you want to do that's more important.

Budgets are very local. You can see my current budget and spending reports here (http://www.evolvingpf.com/our-budget-and-spending-reports/) if that is helpful to you at all (I'm a personal finance blogger so I'm very open about this sort of thing) but I recommend talking with your local friends who are in your same income range what they are spending in different areas and if they've found great areas of value (for example, a gym membership that fits their needs well).

There are tons of free resources available to help you figure this out - I'm partial to personal finance blogs, of course, but there are also great online magazines and you can check out your local library for books (my favorite for young adults is Get a Financial Life).

missunshine
12-03-2013, 06:44 AM
thank you ALL so much for your input, it has definitely helped me how to priritize and organize my money.
i'm a student with a low budget and i think many of you can relate. after paying rent and bills there is so little money left and i wanted to find the best way how to spend or save every cent. i'm usually very good with money but i thonk there is always some way be even better with your income.

i loved your advice wanabeskinny, it's usually the little things that get me in the red at the end of the month, like coffee, snacks here and there and then i wonder where all my moneys at :D
i decided to give up on gym membership for now, i can walk plenty to school and back and only to buy the basic groceries for this month since i'm going home at the end of the moth and i need to use the food that's left so it doesn't go bad.
thanky again girls, i really appreciate your help :)

Leeh
12-05-2013, 09:43 AM
We aren't students anymore but I can relate to hard challenging it is for you at this time.

I have a budget that we live on. I used to order in every week and that adds up as well as the quick jaunt to the dollarstore (walkable) for a chocolate bar here and there.

I withdraw 400$ cash every Saturday and from that we pay for food (I have a home daycare that is why the amount is so high) and any other household expenses- such as a pharmacy run for hair products. IF there is cash left at the end of the week I can order in on Friday. If not then I don't get to order in until I have an extra cash week. This week I have some extra but husband and I are going to a Christmas party so the kids will get pizza or something.

nelie
12-05-2013, 11:29 AM
I had a rudimentary budget when I was in college, basically I kept at least $1,000 in my checking account and if my balance started to get close to that, I'd nip my expenses. Somehow it worked well for me although I came up with a more mature method after college that included saving for the future. I was only concerned with surviving in college :) (at the time I didn't have any credit cards and mostly used cash)

missunshine
12-05-2013, 08:11 PM
well i'm on a very strict budget...i try to make a list for all the expensess i'll be (probably) having in that month and for those i know will come in the future, like rent, bills, scolarship,...
what is left i use for food and other things. i try to save money every month, even if it's minimum sum it somehow makes me feel better.
my main problem is that when i'm trying to lose weight i buy lots of fresh veggies and fruits and other healthy and usually expensive food but now i have a very limited budget and i don't want to eat the same food every day. that is my main problem.
i never eat out or order in because it's too expensive, i rarely go for a drink out and it's killing my social life kinda and i have to turn down invites all the time. my roommates think i don't like to socialize and go out but the truth is i'm simply broke and have other priorities. in the beggining i told them i can't go out with them because i had no money but now i just try to find other excuses. :/ hopefully this economical situation will pass in few months.

EagleRiverDee
12-09-2013, 12:30 PM
well i'm on a very strict budget...i try to make a list for all the expensess i'll be (probably) having in that month and for those i know will come in the future, like rent, bills, scolarship,...
what is left i use for food and other things. i try to save money every month, even if it's minimum sum it somehow makes me feel better.
my main problem is that when i'm trying to lose weight i buy lots of fresh veggies and fruits and other healthy and usually expensive food but now i have a very limited budget and i don't want to eat the same food every day. that is my main problem.
i never eat out or order in because it's too expensive, i rarely go for a drink out and it's killing my social life kinda and i have to turn down invites all the time. my roommates think i don't like to socialize and go out but the truth is i'm simply broke and have other priorities. in the beggining i told them i can't go out with them because i had no money but now i just try to find other excuses. :/ hopefully this economical situation will pass in few months.

I understand. I, too, have noticed how expensive it is to eat fresh vegetables, fruits, and meat. My suggestions would be- buy bulk bags of salad, spinach, or kale and whole cucumber, carrot, tomato, bell pepper or whatever else you like. Chop it yourself. Buying pre-cut or salad bar fixings is a lot more expensive by the pound. Check to see if your grocery store has a bargain bin where they put meat that needs to sell before it expires - you can often save 30% or more that way. Experiment with different ways of cooking the same items, as opposed to buying different foods all the time. For example, spinach is good raw as a salad, steamed or sauteed. Kale, as well.

If someone in your family is a Costco or Sams Club member- or has access to the Commissary on a military base- consider asking if they would take you shopping with them, or pick you up a few items when they are there that you can reimburse them for. Warehouse clubs and the Commissary offer far better prices on produce and meat than standard grocery stores.

On your social life- are you able to host friends at your place for a BYOD (bring your own drink) movie night or something? I buy boxed wine which can be quite good, stays fresh far longer than bottled wine, and is much cheaper by the liter. It's utterly ridiculous how much bars and restaurants mark up their drinks - I don't order drinks when I go out either, because of that.

Munchy
12-11-2013, 10:35 AM
I'm on a pretty strict budget too - I'm a single mom and I bought a house the year before last. We recently had a pretty big tax increase and my already tight budget is even tighter. I notice that many of my friends (childless and renting) seem to not really understand my financial position and often do think that I'm just ignoring them. With about $50 expendable income a week, it doesn't give me much wiggle room! A scholastic book fair or a field trip can sometimes eat into that quickly. :dizzy:

Anyway, for food, I always look at Aldi first - I don't know if you have one in your area. There I can buy almost all of my groceries with the exception of some of my produce list. The Asian markets are so cheap and have great selection. PriceRite is another store near here (owned by ShopRite) where I can pick up some of the more specialty items I purchase (like San Marzano tomatoes for marinara sauce or capers).

I try to buy as little processed food as possible and try to make as little as possible go to waste by cooking, dividing into portions, and freezing. It's the way we extend the shelf life of so many of our meals. We tend to eat a lot of soups, chilis, and stews and use meat sparingly by stretching our food with other vegetables. An example of this is a Chili (http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=233278) which uses 10 oz of meat for about 20 cups of chili or by shredding vegetables into burgers, meatballs, nuggets, burritos, etc.

Cheap staples are beans, rice, potatoes, pasta, frozen vegetables, canned fish, and eggs.

I find that just by freezing, I'm able to really see a reduction in food waste and that keeps my pockets much happier.

IanG
12-11-2013, 10:52 AM
My personal experience, that I would like to share even though it is not very constructive, was that it was very cheap to lose weight but expensive to eat healthy.

I lost most of my weight by eating less and buying less junk. I was saving $50+ on groceries easily every week.

But now I am trying to eat more healthily my food costs have rocketed. I have acquired a taste for fish and some quite exotic foods that, while good for me, cost the big bucks.

So try not to get carried away.