How to Slice Your Budget Wisely

At least quarterly, Mr. B and I try to take a look at our budget. How is it (or isn’t it) working? Since we are considering buying a house, we have also been looking for ways to slice our budget without bleeding. From out experience, here are some tips on how to create a budget.

Four Ways To Slice Your Budget

Look for things that “double”

Since we are currently eligible for a cell phone upgrade, we revisited our phone plan. Over the last year we upgraded to Sidekicks with internet access, but we weren’t impressed. It seems when you have one phone that does everything, it does nothing well. Also, since we have a netbook, phone internet is almost redundant. Slicing our internet data plan removed $20 a month from our budget without any pain.


Photo by Jeff Keen via Flickr

Another section that inherently doubles is eating out vs. purchasing groceries. I have to confess this is the one part of our budget we can never completely rein in. However, we’ve been able to save some money with a couple changes:

  1. Choose happy hour or lunch instead of dinner — By changing the time you go out to eat, you can enjoy the same food, at a lower price. In today’s economy many restaurants are actually extending happy hour to draw in more business. Several places here in Portland run HH from 3-8 pm. That sounds more like dinner to me.
  2. Time your grocery store trips for your lifestyle — I kept trying to shop for groceries every week or two weeks, but it just wasn’t working out. The final straw was when I lost a large portion of meat in one week. Living in an apartment means we are unable to stock a freezer, and if we get invited to a friend’s everything goes bad. Now I shop every few days, and I can keep to a closer spending plan.

DIY when possible.

I occasionally make my own fabric softener, bake my own bread (healthier and makes the house smell wonderful), and make some of my own cleaning supplies. In fact, you can save quite a bit of money and help the environment with homemade products.

Ask your financial partners what they can slice.

You will be surprised when you involve your financial partners at how your budget changes. I always assumed Mr. B didn’t wouldn’t give up cable TV or internet on his phone. As it turns out, he didn’t consider either of those to be a priority, a need, or even a strong want. Involve your children. If you give them the choice of saving for something special or having premium cable, you might be surprised at their choice.

Evaluate when needed.

Nothing’s perfect, and a budget is constantly in flux. While Mr. B and I evaluate our budget every quarter, if something isn’t working, we can always sit down before then to have a conversation. It’s better to communicate immediately than to grow frustrated.

Slicing through your budget doesn’t have to be a painful experience. In fact, a finely tuned budget can provide financial comfort, and is a great starting point for your financial future.

About the Author

By , on Oct 7, 2009
A. Black writes about graciously building wealth through thrift and putting the stereotypical notion of a "tightwad" on its tush at Modern Tightwad. For frugal tips and money management solutions with a tightwad twist visit her website or subscribe to her feed..

Leave Your Comment (5 Comments)

  1. BankMode says:

    What makes this process easier is when you step back and take a look at your miscellanous spending each month. We should all consider what it is we do and do not need in our lives.

  2. Jerry says:

    These are great tips and I really appreciate the green ideas. It’s always a great idea and kills 2 birds with one stone. It’s insurance for the environment and you get some extra cash in your wallet. Win-win. All the tips are great and all lead to more money in your budget.

  3. A.B. says:

    @kenyantykook: I agree, and to make things worse, discipline does not seem to be something most of us are born with. Most of us either learn it from our parents, from our mistakes, or never at all.

    @John DeFlumeri Jr.: I find it fascinating that many of the things that double (i.e. internet on the phone, computer, etc.) are relatively new inventions. I remember when cell phones were car phones, and most people only saw them in movies!

    Thank you both for visiting, and your comments.

  4. Things that double are eating us alive.

  5. kenyantykoon says:

    its always very difficult to slice up a budget and give up things that you really want- like eating out and more than one source of internet or more toys. it takes a lot of discipline

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