When it's payday time and we realize that we don't have enough money to pay for our expenses, we normally blame the rising prices of commodities and the monthly income that we think are not always commensurate to our hardwork.
But, the truth is, we should all find ways to cut corners and reduce expenses to make sure that we live comfortably and well.
Record, record, record!
For a month, record all your expenses in a small notebook, everything, from gasoline expenses, transportation expenses, meals in the office, toll tickets, cups of coffee during breaktime, expenses for the school projects of your kids, and a lot of expenses which you thought are negligible. This way, you can track down where exactly your money is going.
Create a Budget
It is always said that in creating a budget, you should pay yourself first. But for me, I believe, you should give back to God first part of what He has given to you, after which, you can then save some part of your income for yourself.
I use the envelope method in budgeting. I allocate all the expenses and put each of them in their own envelopes. This system is effective although sometimes some envelopes are short, but I know that if I stick to my budget, I will be able to fill this up from other expenses that I am able to save from.
Ways to Save Money
- Don't bring your car to the office everyday. With the rising cost of gasoline, it's really a good idea to just commute. Aside from saving on gasoline expenses, you will also save on parking fee. Of course, there are exemptions to this, like, when the weather is really bad, it's better to bring a car than to get soaked and waddle your way through floods.
- Bring a packed lunch to the office. Eating out is very expensive. Save this for a once a month bonding with your office-mates.
- Reduce your dining out expenses. When my family goes to the Mall, we eat our lunch first at home, this way, we reduce our entertainment expenses. A family of five these days spend a bit when eating in a restaurant or fast food joint.
- Make a list of the things that you need to buy before going to the grocery. Better yet, ask your husband to do the grocery. Weird? According to some studies, men are fast shoppers and only buy the things they had set out to buy, while women, on the other hand, take a longer time in groceries or shopping malls and practically stop at every aisle. This is the reason why women end up with more products in their cart instead of just leaving with the items on their grocery list. I've proven this in the case of my husband. When I ask him to do the grocery, he really strictly follow what's on our list, and his expenses are always within the budget.
- Identify and reduce non-essential expenses. I really love to read books. So, to reduce expenses here, I got a membership in the Book Club in our office. For a very minimal fee a year, I get to read as much number of books as I can. But what I cannot sacrifice is my monthly expenses on Good Housekeeping and Working Mom magazines. I feel justified in having these extra expenses because I really get a lot of ideas and inspirations from these magazines.
- There are many unnecessary expenses that total to a fairly large amount of money. For example, in our office, we have a coffee boy who brings us coffee and snacks during break-time in the morning and afternoon. But since this is a special service to staff, the cost is also slightly more expensive than when we go to the cafeteria by ourselves. So, what I do is, I just buy my biscuits and chocolate drink from the supermarket and just bring my own snacks in the office.
The key to reducing our expenses is really within us. Everything really depends on self-discipline. This is what's important and this is what we can very much apply in our everyday struggle to stick to our family budget.