I went through a very dark time with my finances and since then have always been pretty careful with my money but my tendency to overspend is always with me so I have to find ways to maintain control. I’m doing okay without a job and I have cut back but I know I can cut back even more. I have unemployment coming in but I don’t count on that for anything other than to pay the bills.
About 10 years ago when I was really struggling to budget my mom came up with what we called “the plan” which was basically writing out all your monthly expenses, not using credit cards, coming up with plans to pay off any debt, and using cash whenever possible.
It was simple and effective.
It was also one of the first things I went back to when I lost my job. I immediately sat down and wrote out all my monthly bills to figure out how long I could go without a paycheck plus still have enough to move. I still do this every month but have neglected consistently including budgets for food, pet food, essentials, and entertainment.
Every so often I begin to see old patterns and it almost always starts with my impulsive spending, so I reign myself back into reasonable spending. I realized my grocery shopping has been like that of a spoiled child basically buying whatever I happen to feel like eating that day. It’s not that I don’t have any food in my apartment it’s that I don’t have easy food or food that I want to eat.
A quick look into my transactions shows I’m spending way too much on groceries for one person, even with buying better food I can still cut my monthly grocery bill in half but it’s gonna take a tiny bit of effort.
Step one is eating what I currently have in my apartment. I have a pantry with canned foods, a whole box of rice, unopened box of cereal, oatmeal, pasta, etc. Again, I have food. I might have to get creative sometimes but in the interest of saving money it’ll be worth it plus I might stumble upon a brilliant recipe.
Step two is cash only for any weekly shopping. I’ve been needing to do this for awhile now but I’m going to take out a set amount of money and that’s it for the week for all my shopping. If I want to buy new mascara it’s coming out of that budget. I’ve been getting some money from selling stuff in my apartment so I’ll probably just use that for the small stuff.
Step three is awareness of my spending. I used to keep all my receipts and go through them every week or month to see where I spent my money and where I could spend less. I think I will start this again checking receipts weekly to have a better understanding of where I’m spending.
This morning I wanted a Luna bar before I went to the gym but I was out and my first thought was “I need to stop by the store on the way home form the gym to buy more”;however, a quick search of my cupboard showed packets of oatmeal and cream of wheat so I grabbed one of those instead. It was delicious and will also be delicious tomorrow.
I’ll still need to shop for fruits, veggies, and lunch meat weekly. I’ve cleaned out my fridge and my pantry but still have plenty of food. I also think this will help keep me on track with my eating because I’ll have to plan more since I’m not going to be shopping as often.
Hopefully I’ll find a job soon but in the meantime I need to make sure I’m staying on track plus this might also help to develop some better spending habits that I’ll use in the future.