Today, I’d like to continue a favorite series on the blog! One that highlights easy strategies for BALLIN’ ON A BUDGET. Each month, I’m proposing something for all of us to ditch in order to free up some line items on our budgets with values that can go to more practical expenditures like paying down on debt and saving for special occasions. (You can catch up on last month’s suggestions HERE.) Whether you’re actively pinching pennies or simply want to re-direct some of those pennies to better serve you, this series is for you! So, let’s get started…
Ballin’ on a Budget means being super mindful with your spending habits. It’s not possible to stop spending all together so taking time to separate wants from needs can curb the flow of dollah bills from your bank account. However, it’s easy to get in the habit of “here and there” spending. Buying things as needed or when the inkling for an item creeps up. Unfortunately, this eliminates that all important meditation on whether the purchase is a crucial one, turning mindfulness into mindlessness. Eliminating mindless spending will take work but it’s possible! Here’s our plan for the next 4 weeks…
Week 1. Track your spending.
If you’re looking to make major lifestyle changes, it’s important to identify what’s going on in the status quo. Set aside a week to write down every single thing you spend money on. This might be a little bit nerve-wracking or even a little bit annoying (“Hold on, I gotta document this latte!”) but it’s just seven days and it has the potential to be a really eye opening experience. Grab a notebook (or the Notes app in your phone, whatever works) and get to jottin’!
Week 2. Identify spending categories.
Now that you have a week’s worth of spending habits, it’s time to do a little analyzing. If you like charts, spreadsheets, and data of any kind (*raises hand*) you may enjoy this step just enough to soften the blow of “Holy Shit, I used my debit card HOW many times?!” Read over your list of expenses and identify a few major spending categories of tangible items. Think: Groceries, Clothes, Bath/Body/Wellness, Home Necessities, Gifts, etc. Other line items; like Bills, Entertainment, Eating Out, are a topic for another day. Break things down in whatever way works best for you visually. Going through your money diary with color coordinated highlighters, Excel spreadsheet, handwritten lists with category headings, you get the gist. This is a great step to return to whenever you need to hit the reset button on your spending.
Week 3. Set up a schedule for when to shop.
Next, you’ll translate those categories into a shopping schedule based on their importance and necessary frequency. If you stopped by an expensive city-market to pick up a few groceries every evening on your way home from work, try wrangling all your food for the week on 1-2 scheduled days. Did you run out of shampoo mid-week and have to run to CVS, where you also grabbed nail polish and a stack of individually packaged face masks? See if you can make bath and body product purchases a weekend thing. Keep a list of the items you need (or think you’ll need). Whenever I do this I always end up whittling down the list because I’ve included things that weren’t actually needed. By the time the weekend trip rolls around and I’ve got to part with a lump of cash, instead of spaced out over the course of many shopping trips, I tighten the belt…or, errh, wallet. Play around with how often you need shopping trips to occur based on the category. Could you buy household goods (like cleaning and paper products) once a month? Can you shop for new clothes just once a quarter? It’s totally up to you!
Week 4. Find a day to treat yourself.
Even when you’re Ballin’ on a Budget I think it’s a-okay to splurge once and a while. Total deprivation and super strict purse-strings are a recipe for disaster. And in my experience, going that route just isn’t sustainable. So, one little trick I’ve grown to love? Plan when you’re going to treat yourself! Look back over your week of spending or just think about what you often find yourself impulse buying. A few years ago, when I was trying to pay off a bunch of debt and actively attempting the Ballin’ on a Budget lifestyle in order to do so, my go-to splurge was magazines. I LOVE magazines. And they’re fairly cheap reading material! But I was impulse buying them way too often. So, I decided instead that I would treat myself to a new magazine once a month. I picked a day of the month (like the 24th or the 5th) so that I would remember and I stuck to the routine. Weirdly, it became SO much more satisfying. I looked forward to the treat so much more because it WAS a treat, not just a mindless purchase. I took great care in picking one out (opting for a different one each time ) and really savored the experience of reading it. You could do something similar with any number of things! A new makeup item, fun stationery, a little plant for your porch, a vinyl record, GO WILD!
Week 1 —
Week 2 —
Week 3 —
Week 4 —
Do you have your own tips or resources for eliminating “here and there” spending? Is this an area of your budget that you struggle with? Do you think following these weekly steps could help? Let’s chat in the comments below!
And tune in next month when we tackle fast fashion!