With expenses so out of control, it can seem really overwhelming to keep control of expenses. We asked our readers to share just how they make it work, both financially, practically, and mentally.
– Spend the time to menu plan for the week or month. It’s hard but it’s worth it.
– Only grocery shop once a week. You will be so calm when you know you have everything you need! It seems funny, but that one big grocery order always comes out to be less money than all those frequent trips combined.
– Spend time to make that complete shopping list before going grocery shopping (if shopping in person). And have self control. Dont buy a thing more.
– For many, it SAVES MONEY to make that grocery order (even if there’s extra service fees) because you avoid impulsive purchases or thoughts like, “Oh, why don’t I make this for dessert!” or “These look good, I’ll make an extra side dish.” Lots of readers commented that deliveries vs. shopping in person saves a lot of money because of the almost unavoidable impulse factor. Plus, time can be money too.
– Don’t want to miss out on sale items? Look at the circular before making the menus/list so you can incorporate those items into your menu (but don’t add them to cart once you’re already in the store).
– Have yummy food at home that you can easily prep/warm up even with last minute notice so you don’t need to resort to takeout.
– Don’t stock up! Consider the grocery your storage closet. Only bring home what you need. Note that of course you can and should stock up on staples, but you should know where the best price is available on the items you use most often.
– You can get very creative with ground beef.
– You don’t save money by buying cheaper, fattier chicken cutlets because so much gets wasted once you clean them.
– Organize your freezer! Label items! When you know just what’s in there, you’ll actually use what’s there rather than running out to buy. Use items soon after you freeze them so they don’t eventually go to waste.
– Don’t buy paper goods! Use real plates, cups, and silverware (and use your dishwashers!)
– Avoid individual sizes of drinks if you can.
HOME and CLOTHING
– Shop in your closet! Organize it as if Pesach is coming. Once it’s organized, you just might love what you have already. You thought you needed a top to go with that skirt? Guess what, you have three tops that match!
– You don’t need everything you see that the “in crowd” has. It’s all a sham.
– Don’t believe in the “Sold Out Effect,” i.e. “You need to get it now or there won’t be anything available and you won’t survive.” This creates irrational fear that if you don’t purchase XYX right now you won’t be able to have it, and causes you to rush to buy something whether or not you would have anyway. In reality, there are enough cute things to go around. If not now, you will always be able to get what you need when you decide it’s time.
– Before buying something new, try to be creative with what you have. Or, search around your house. You might have what you need already.
– Time is money! Save but you can’t do everything for cheaper.
– Don’t alway run after the cheapest item or service. Go with the best value and you will save in the long run. Cheaper products need to be replaced sooner.
– Take shopping apps off your phone!
– Have one day per week that’s your “Amazon” or “online shopping” day. You can add to cart all week long, but only one day that you checkout (usually, the better discounts and sales are over weekends). You’ll find that a lot of the things you might have impulsively bought are no longer needed.
– Use a price matching app, such as Flipp, to always find the best price, or one like Karma that automatically searches the available coupon codes.
– Work backwards from your goal and know why.
– Write down everything you buy in categories to see where you can cut back. Or, don’t be afraid to use a budgeting app such as Mint so you can see the numbers and track cash flow.
– Use cash or a debit card to pay for things. Credit cards make you feel like things are free
– Pre-plan your monthly budget.
– It’s easier to break up the budget week by week. It’s way easier than keeping track of larger chunk sums for the month.
– If you need to cut back, it’s easier to give up on 1 or 2 large purchases (vacation, jewelry) than it may be to give up on many small purchases.
– Make an excel spreadsheet with all your expenses and keep track. Know where it’s going.
– Don’t be ashamed. You are not alone.
– Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Don’t spend what you dont have just to impress people.
– Don’t buy just because it’s on sale or “it’s so cheap!”
– Think: If you never saw someone else have this item, would you have ever thought to want it?
– If something isn’t time-sensitive, try not to buy something unplanned for a few days, or a week. If you are managing without it, you know that it’s not a need.
– You can have anything you want but not everything you want.
– Ask yourself, “Is this a need or a want?” If Mashiach was coming tomorrow, would I still need this item right now?
– Hashem has got your back! Get out of the scarcity mindset. Just keep relying and everything works out without nerves. He has enough to give you everything you need.