3 Habits that are Breaking your Budget

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As the Peterberry family launches into another No Spending Month, we’re reflecting on budgets and spending habits.

Here are 3 habits that may be breaking your budget:

  1. Dining out: We all love to do it. It tastes good, it’s convenient, and it’s a chance to get together with others and share conversation. You know what you will also be sharing…bills and debt. Depending on how often you are eating out, the bills can really rack up. I have a friend who shared that when he analyzed his yearly spending, he had spent over $10k on eating out! I can’t help but think about the amazing exotic destination he could have visited. Instead he ate it! This is also true of drinking your money. Whether it’s at a bar or coffee shop, it quickly adds up! That means you Starbucks loversID-100360008. Do you love it enough to give up $600-$1500?! That’s how much your spending if you buy one small latte three to seven times a week!

How to Curb This Habit: You don’t have to give up your treats and food cold turkey. Start by making small changes. If you love your local coffee shop, cut your visits there in half. The other time, make something at home. The same goes for dining out. Your goal- to make these expenditures a “treat” not a “habit.” Personally, we used to eat out 1-2 times a week and also visit Starbucks that often too. Now we eat out every other month and visit Starbucks only on Saturdays. Our money is staying in our pocket and in our budget.

2. Entertaining Yourself when You’re Bored:  How often have you been bored and decided to go somewhere to beat that boredom. Whether it’s taking the kids to a jumping establishment or just going to the mall to walk around. How often do those o
utings result in spending? For me this is the hardest habit to break. I hate being bored! What I’ve had to learn is that there are things in my house that I can do to ease boredom…and there is also a lot of FREE activities around town.

How to Curb the Habit: Start by creating a list of things you could do when bored ahead of time. I have done this personally and also have had the kids create a “bucket list.” If you create this when you aren’t bored, you will be a lot more open minded to ideas. Then use this when the urge to go out and spend hits you. Feel like you have to leave the house? Well, think of ways you can cut costs. Can you take the kids for a hike and a picnic instead of out to lunch? Can you read a book in the park…or take a trip to a public place like the library? If you can’t resist the temptation of the mall…or if Target is calling you, swap your credit card out for cash so that you have set a pre-determined limit. What you don’t want, is to replace boredom with unneeded debt. Finally, I’ve had to learn…sometimes you are just going to bored. Embrace that life has moments that are dull and that it’s okay to feel that way.

ID-1001721723. All the “little” extras. You know what I’m talking about. The soda and chips you buy when you stop for gas. The magazine you throw in the cart at the grocery store. The quick trip to grab lunch because you were too tired to fix yourself something last night to take to work. The cute shirt that is on sale when you went to pick up a prescription at Target. All these little expenditures can quickly drain your budget of cash.

How to Curb the Habit: Well I know that Dave Ramsey would disagree, but I really thought that having a credit card to track all my purchases helped. I was able to see where my money was going. This allowed me to see where all these small purchases were. The first step is to be aware. The next step: bring back that first grade lesson on “needs vs wants.” Really evaluate whether this is something that you need. When in doubt…sleep on it. If you have a spouse, run it by them. Too often in my budget conscious days, my husband now receives a text while I’m out with a photo which reads, “do we need this?” That accountability and voice of reason has helped stop quite a few purchases… though I couldn’t tell you what it was I wanted at the time.

So, which one of these habits will you work on tackling this month? Remember, small changes add up to big savings later! I’d love to hear your ideas on other ways to cut spending… please comment with suggestions!

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4 Responses

  1. I don’t do much of the grabbing of extras, and time alone is a treat! LOL. But dining out is what kills us. I’m afraid to track it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it could have funded a great vacation!

    1. I agree, time alone is the best treat anyone can give me these days! I didn’t think it added up, but when we tracked it…. well, let’s just say we don’t eat out too much. We used to eat out twice a week. Now I’m cheap and realize even having a glass of wine while out is too expensive for me. A perfect night with my husband is now one where we go to the grocery store to get a bottle of wine, cheese, and crackers. Cheaper than eating out and now I’ve found I enjoy that more!

  2. My husband and I just started a modified no-spend year so I love reading posts like this. We don’t eat out much, but do bring in take-out here and there (we have agreed to one pizza a week only for this year). Our biggest problem area is buying things for our home and holiday gift-giving. I’m looking forward to reading through your blog as I’ve already noticed some posts that have caught me eye.

    1. Thanks for reading! Those are areas our family also struggled with (gift giving is why we can’t spend money this month). For us, tracking our spending was the key to controlling it. We have a “home improvement” category where we put decor or home items. That is another area that can really creep up! I commend your family on a no-spend year…. I’m struggling with just a month! I just keep telling myself it will be worth it at the end.

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