I have my monthly budget down to a science...kind of. I always over-estimate the costs of utilities and other spending so my budget is not too tight. For over four years, this is how we've done it and I can't believe how nonchalant I was with money before.
There was a time, when I would go to the grocery store without a list or a plan and buy whatever looked good to me. I can't tell you how much food I would waste!! Of course, when the time came to cook dinner, I had a fridge full of food but nothing to cook. My grocery items didn't make sense. For example, I would buy a loaf of bread, a frozen cake, and pasta. Huh???? I'd spend $100 on absolutely nothing! So of course, B and I would go and eat out. Then because we ate out and didn't have leftovers, we'd eat out for lunch. It was a vicious cycle that cost us a TON of money.
Now every week, I go to two different grocery stores, Ralphs and Trader Joes. I go through the Ralphs sales ads a week and see how those prices compare to those of Trader Joes. )I don't use coupons unless they are staring right at me. I know there are savings in there. I just don't have the patience nor the time to do it all the time.) I make a menu plan and write out everything I need to make that dish. I often go for dishes that I have at least some of the ingredients on hand already. After I make a list, I calculate everything on the list and it almost always runs up to about $50. $50 a week is my food budget for two adults. Somedays it is a little higher if I decide to stock up on something that is on sale or if I'm making food for an event or something, but other than that it is always around $50.
This past Sunday, I veered a little from the list and bought several times that I just wanted. Of course, I went over budget by $10. The total amount of the things I bought not on the list? $9.20.
After all of this, our biggest money leak is eating out. Although I do cook most nights, sometimes I don't feel like it or sometimes we go out after work and come home too late to cook. It's a work in progress and I'm no longer fanatical about it. We have room in our budgets for "fun" money and entertainment. I just take it out of that and try to be better the following day.
I have the reputation in my family of being the one where money filters through my hands like sand. I used to spend a lot on useless things and now I still spend money on my wants vs. needs, but I am just wiser about it.
Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.