How to Avoid the Little Things that Break the Budget


It’s not the big things that break down budgets on a regular basis. It’s the little things. Think of it this way; how often do you go out and buy a new boat or a new car or a new house during the month and add to your expenses and your budget? Not all that often – and you usually just trade in one payment for another with things like new cars and houses. However, when you stop and think about the little things in life, you can see how they add up. I noticed that this weekend. I thought we had a fairly inexpensive weekend since we were busy with birthday parties and things that didn’t cost us anything.

We had a date day on Sunday and went to brunch, but we had bottomless mimosas and we only stopped at three stores. We spent far more than I thought we did even though we didn’t go many places. It was the coffee here. It was paying an additional $75 to exchange a pair of shoes for a different pair that cost a bit more. It was two grocery trips for two dinners we hosted. It was new shoes for our daughter for cheer. It was new lotion. It was a few candles here, it was a glass of wine at the Nordstrom café. It was a number of small things that didn’t seem like big things since they weren’t; but they do add up.

It’s the little things that we are not careful of that get us and make our budgets seem like they’re blown, and that is how so many people fail to stick to the budget every month. We have a few tips that might help you learn to stick to the budget and stop wasting money on little things that don’t benefit you in any way.

Skip the Bottled Water

My husband and I used to go through bottled water like it was our business. We both like to have water on us everywhere we go, and it was so much easier. Then we bought Yeti ramblers and now we have those and ice, and our water from our fridge. We take them with us and they stay cold forever. We don’t have to buy bottled water anymore so that we have something that we can carry around with us that won’t spill – and now our water stays cold all the time.

 Balance Your Book Regularly

One of the things I’m terrible at doing is balancing my checkbook. I forget all about it all the time. I can go weeks without doing it, and I know that’s a terrible habit. Then I end up doing the quick balance a few weeks later by going through and basically adjusting my book to match what the bank says minus any outstanding checks or debits. I am always off, and I’m sure there are mistakes made that aren’t mine but I never bother with them.

Another reason to balance your book regularly is to make sure you are where you need to be. When you come home and write down a receipt and see where you are, you might be more inclined to tighten up the budget for the rest of the weekend. It can help you with the little things.

Carry Cash

I never carry cash, but I’ve learned to do it recently. It’s so much easier to tell my kids I have no more cash and that stores don’t accept my card when we go places. They want to go to Dunkin Donuts for donuts (read – frosting to lick off of donuts that they discard) or Starbucks for a frap. While I have no problem with this, we’d spend $30 per day if I did it every time they asked – and they don’t eat or drink much of what I get. Instead, I get $50 per week and carry that around. When it’s gone, we don’t make any more stops. It’s so much easier to carry cash and see where your budget stands than it is to spend money you can’t see.

Learn to Stay Home

There is nothing wrong with staying home. I wish I could it more often at night and on the weekends. It’s a great way to ensure you’re sticking to the budget because you are not out making purchases and spending money. However, don’t make special trips to the store for special dinners, order out or spend time shopping online or you will still break your budget. It’s a nasty, vicious cycle, but someone has to break it. Go ahead and learn to stay home, not spend money and save your budget in terms of the little things that tend to add up so much. You’ll appreciate it in the long run, I promise.

Photo by Getty Images

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