The biggest tip for budgeting your money to last through the month is to save on your grocery bill. There are many ways to accomplish this. We use coupons whenever possible. A few excellent sources for this are Samples and Coupons, Krazy Coupon Lady, and your local paper (generally Sunday). We use the double and triple coupons along with sales and BOGO offerings (personally using local grocery stores), and verify price per unit to ensure that your purchase is the best possible value. You should consider shopping at discounted grocery chains such as Save A Lot and Aldi. Preparing the shopping list beforehand and sticking to it eliminates many unnecessary purchases. A good way to catch the best “clearance sales is to shop early at the grocery store. Another excellent source for getting the most food for your valuable dollar is provided by a local church – check out One Harvest. Through this program we have gotten hamburger, veggies, after school foods, and even steak at a real bargain price.
A truly important money saving source is proper vehicle maintenance and trip management. These can save quite a bit. One personal discovery made during a three hour daily commute is to drive as close to 55 (or the posted speed limit) as is safely possible. I noticed that driving 60 resulted in improved gas mileage and fewer trips to the pumps. I also combine as many errands into one trip as possible. An additional option for saving gas money is to carpool. Do you live near someone else who works at your company?
Avoid all unnecessary “bells and whistles” in your cell and home phone, television, and internet. In searching for savings in our cell phone plan we switched to Straight Talk and realized a significant monthly savings while adding texting and web access to our plan. When you need a new phone take a look at EBay, Craigslist, or a similar classifieds/auction site. We have successfully purchased used phones through EBay with no issues. Satellite may be cheaper than your current cable plan – we switched to Dish Network basic plan and realized a large savings. You should also verify that you actually need all of the channels in your package. You may want to consider a “bundle plan” to decrease costs. We have CenturyLink phone and internet bundle. When researching various options you may decide that it is better to avoid them. Research on a $20 per year phone plan revealed up-front costs, additional annual charge for a ported number, and unreliable service/customer support.
An easy money saving move is to cut out expenditures that are unnecessary. We drink water instead of soft drink. If your tap water is unsafe you can use a filtered bottle and realize a great savings over bottled water. Cutting out unnecessary snack foods and walking short distances instead of driving has produced savings. We have switched our shower heads for more efficient models, backed the thermostat down a few degrees, and tend to cook at home with extra for leftovers and freezing. Another excellent suggestion is to grow your own vegetables and herbs. We have ours on a small area of land but this can be accomplished in a container garden.
In making larger purchases always look for price matching opportunities. A local retailer may have the item desired but not the best price. First, search the web for a sale from a local retailer and then print the page with that sale price and the retailer name. Go to a local Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, or other retailer with a price match policy and purchase your item.
Overall, you need to develop your own system of budgeting and saving. Look at the various established approaches and devise your own system from them. Start small and build up as you become more comfortable and familiar with your own system for getting the most out of your income.