Whether you’re searching for a job or not, living on budget is important, but not very easy (especially if you’re like me). I asked our Twitter followers what their best money saving advice was and almost everyone told me the same thing:
Write everything down!
Take a week and write down everything you spend. You may be really surprised on the ridiculous things you spend money on.
Take me, for example. I am trying to save up to buy a house. While this is very scary and exciting, saving up for a down payment has been much more difficult than my husband and I originally thought. So, I took the advice of our Twitter followers and spent a week writing down everything I bought, and boy was I surprised!
I’ve never considered myself a frivolous person and have even bragged about how I don’t go shopping very often and take staycations rather than vacations. But, after a week of examining my spending habits, I am a little embarrassed to say that I was very wrong and pretty wasteful when it comes to my weekly spending. I bought books I haven’t started (and may never even get t0), shoes that look almost exactly like a pair I already own and even a ridiculously overpriced kitchen gadget that doesn’t serve much purpose.
The biggest expense? Food.
Turns out I spend an completely unnecessary amount of money on weekday lunches. I’ve since started bringing my lunch to work every day. Turns out buying sandwich fixings and sides is much cheaper than going to a cafeteria or restaurant. I’m both excited about the money I’m saving and sad about all the money I’ve lost.
Same goes for dinners. Neither my husband nor I can cook…at all. We are big advocates of eating out and even bigger advocates of having food delivered. Just one week of stepping up my game and using all the cookbooks my mom gave me has saved me a significant amount of money! It’s actually kind of fun to compare a week of what we used to do to a week of what we do now.
Turn it into a game
I am an extremely competitive person and have a really hard time with losing anything. So, I decided to play a game with my toughest competitor…myself. I took a look at the list I made during my week of spending reflection and competed against myself to see by just how much I could decrease my spending. I went back to my college days of finding creative ways to dress up Ramen, I avoided any and all shoe stores, drove a different way to work so I wouldn’t be tempted by Target and really did everything I could to only spend money when it was absolutely necessary.
While it may have been a little annoying to actually complete, the end result was pretty awesome and eye opening. Turns out my parents were right – money doesn’t grow on trees.
Having a weekly budget and actually sticking to it has had an impact on just about every aspect of my life. I know what I can spend each week on food, clothes, fun, etc. I’ve become more creative and much more thrifty. It’s not always the most fun thing in the world, but the end result will be so worth it.
This whole budgeting idea is something I wish I had picked up on earlier. Hopefully we’ll meet our goal of a saving up a decent down payment soon. Then, I can start budgeting for some actual furniture!