Category: Budget Plan

How to Stretch Your Food Budget without Ditching the Coffee

Probably the most overused advice you’ll hear when it comes to saving money on food is skipping the morning lattes. However, you don’t really have to stay away from Starbucks for good just to stick to your food budget. In fact, there are a lot more ways to stretch your food budget that can really give you significant savings and without having to feel guilty every time you order coffee. Here they are.

  1. Create a List

The most important thing to do first is to figure out what you’re going to eat for the week, then create a list based on the items and ingredients that you will need. This can help you avoid buying things that you don’t need, and it saves you a whole lot of time inside the supermarket. Additionally, not having a list makes you forget things and increases your grocery trips, thus having to spend more.

  1. Sandwich Grocery Shopping Between Two Tasks

It’s quite easy to fall into impulse buying when you’re shopping at your leisure. With your list, do the groceries between two very important tasks that you don’t want to miss so you won’t run the risk of overspending.

  1. Stock Up on Seasonal Items

Almost always, buying in season is cheaper. Make sure to stock up on your favourite produce whenever they are on season and freeze them for future use.

  1. Cook in Bulk

Cooking in bulk not only saves you time, but it can save you a lot of cash by preventing wastage. It also allows for portion control so it’s ideal when you’re on a diet. Divide your meals into various containers and simply thaw when needed.

It would also be wise to buy in bulk, especially for household items that have a long shelf life.

  1. Pack Your Lunch

One of the fastest ways to blow your food budget is by buying your food a lot, whether you use delivery service, eat out, or order takeaway on the way home. It’s even more difficult to save money on the workplace, with lots of temptations around. When you pack your lunch, not only can you save money, but you’ll have the peace of mind that the food you’re eating is actually safe and healthy.

  1. Eat Healthily

Too much meat, junk food, and fast foods are the main food budget busters. Not only that, but eating too much salty, sugary, and fatty foods can lower your life expectancy. On the other hand, filling your food menu with healthy choices is way cheaper and can give you lifelong benefits.

  1. Recycle Leftovers

Many families throw away leftovers, which is the most often reasons of food overspending. If you do not have the culinary creativity, there are a lot of recipes online that will help you recycle those leftovers into new, delicious meals.

  1. Be Smart When Dining Out

Saving money on food doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of the occasional treats, but you have to make smart choices when it comes to eating out. For instance, you can share meals when eating at a restaurant. Instead of having the kids order individual items from the kids menu, encourage them to share with regular sized meals instead. Or you may also want to consider dining at home so it will be only for desserts or drinks when you go out.




10 Steps to an Effective Budget Plan

  1. Follow the Money

The first step to an effective budget plan is to know where your money is coming from and going to. The best way to start is to write down all of your income, including your regular pay cheques, bonuses, and ones that come from your side jobs, in order to have a basis of how much you earn monthly. Next is to write down all of your expenses for the month.

Take advantage of tools that allow you to record and track your expenses with ease. This can save you a lot of time and stress from having to write and calculate them manually. Personally, I hate having to manage too many papers, so before going to bed each night, I record all receipts from the day into my spreadsheet and then dispose them.

  1. Organise Expenses into Categories

The next step is to categorise your expenses. Some separate fixed expenses from variable expenses (ones that change monthly). I prefer separating my wants from my needs though, so that I could better control what goes to each category.

The envelope method works a lot for many people. As a freelancer with varying monthly income, this method best fits my needs.

  1. Set Savings Goals

To stay motivated on saving money, you need to have a clear image of why you are doing it in the first place. Perhaps you want to save up for a home in the next few years, or you want to save up for that dream vacation. Whatever your goals are, make sure to set specific timelines.

  1. Compare Your Goals with Your Habits

Do you see yourself retiring at 50, but find that you’re spending too much on morning lattes and weekend drinks? It’s important that your habits are aligned with your goals. For me, it helps to build momentum when I set one small goal at a time besides my longer goals. For example, my most important goal is to retire early, but I’m also setting aside a small portion of my income for local trips around the country. Besides working around my expenses in general, I particularly cut back on some categories, let’s say, dining out, in order to meet my other smaller goal. If you can decide what’s really the most important to you, then cutting back on less important areas may not seem like a sacrifice at all.

  1. Personalise Your Budget Plan

The best way to stick to a budget plan is by customising a plan that suits your needs and behaviour. It’s no use promising to save 30% of your salary when you simply cannot afford it, as you will just get discouraged along the way if you constantly don’t meet it.

  1. Pay with Cash

Now that you know how much to spend in each category, it’s time to stick to those numbers. Using credit or debit cards can be an easy way to sabotage your budget, so it’s best to implement a cash-only policy.

  1. Make Savings Automatic

Budgeting can be very challenging and tedious, especially when you have to always make conscious efforts. I follow the principle of paying myself first and set aside a specific portion of my income as soon as I receive my pay cheque.

  1. Commit to Paying Off Debt

Having existing debts can become a huge hurdle in your saving  goals. I know it’s hard when you’re dealing with multiple payments, so it helps to start by paying off highest interest debts first and paying minimum for the rest. Then you move on to the next one.

  1. Make Allowances for a Miscellaneous Category

Miscellaneous spending can easily bust your financial plans. Setting aside fun money can make budgeting worthwhile, and it helps avoid the guilt for spending on things that you enjoy.

  1. Don’t Forget to Budget for an Emergency Fund

It’s easy to ruin your plan altogether with one event, such as losing a job or getting sick. An enough safety net will keep you on track despite these events and prevent you from having to acquire more debt.