10 Hacks for Sticking to Your Budget

The calendar has turned and it feels like the perfect time to hit reset on life. This year is a big year for our family financially. We will be making the final payment on our home! It's been a lot of years of frugal living and making financial choices with intention. Years ago, on this very blog, I did a series I called "living well on less" and shared a lot of the tips we lived by. I'm doing a little bit of a refresh on those tips in a year-long series we are breaking down monthly. This month we are focusing on Jumpstart January. It's important to have a rough budget {would you believe we've never really had a real budget?} to live by and I'm giving you some of my 10 favorite hacks so you can stick with your budget.

hacks for sticking to your budget

10 Hacks for Sticking to Your Budget


First off, let me explain our budget situation. My husband and I are fairly money-conscious as is. I am more of the buyer/saver and my husband is the investor. I have a rough idea of the parameters of our spending, and he keeps me on track with the big purchases, like how much house we could afford.

We've never been the family that has worked from a strict budget. I know many who have cash envelope systems and have every dollar accounted for. That isn't us. But we are cautious about how much we eat out, what we spend on clothing, and how much money we spend on entertainment, activities, and travel.

But in order to do that, you do need to know where your money is going each month and how much money you have to work with so that you can create a budget.

Learn more of my practical budgeting tips

All that to say, there are some hacks I follow that will help you stick to whatever kind of budget that you set. 

Want some tips on how to start saving money? Start here

1. Unsubscribe

This is incredibly important, especially after you've done a bunch of online shopping. You're sure to find yourself signed up for whatever store's e-mail list and they are going to creep into your inbox as often as you let them with deals and coupons and free shipping codes. Hit unsubscribe as soon as you get those offers.

You found the shop to buy from once, you can find them again! You don't need to be tempted by their countless offers.

2. Stick to the list

I'll admit this is my downfall, especially when grocery shopping. This is one thing I've heard a lot of people say has helped them as they have limited their in-person shopping as of late. Grocery pick-up and ordering food online, often helps you stick to your list. Even if it costs you a few dollars more, it may be worth it. 

Grocers know that up to 20% of your grocery store buying comes from impulse purchases. Sticking to your list can help.

Want to know the real cost of the impulse buy? Check this out!

Top 10 reasons people overspend! Don't fall into the trap!


3. Keep your Receipts

My husband is notorious for this! He likes to keep track of all of our spending, so he's sort of "trained me" to bring home all my receipts so he can track where our money goes. That's all fine, but beyond that, keeping receipts makes it so easy to return a defective product or bring back something that has been hanging in the closet with tags on it.

Most stores have generous return policies, but only if you have the receipt. You don't want to get stuck returning something you paid full price for and getting the lowest sale price because that's the most recent price on record. We have an envelope system and stash the receipts from each month inside after my husband enters them into Quicken. Receipts are kept for a year unless they are for large purchases and then those are kept indefinitely. 

Did you know most garden stores have a return policy on plants? Check out my "is it dead yet" gardening tip that will save you money!

4. Pack a Lunch

There is no shame in the lunch packing game! Lunch out could cost you hundreds of dollars a month! Get used to packing a sack lunch. Not only will it save you money, but it will also save you time. 

This tip isn't just if you work outside the home. This was a lifesaver for me when my kids were small. We'd often have fun plans for the day and packing snacks, drinks and lunches would save us money so that we could enjoy other things, like zoo and museum memberships. I still pack a lunch if I have a day of errands and know it's going to take me away from lunch at home. 

Failure to plan is planning to fail. 


5.  Use What you Have

Take a lesson from our Depression-Era grandparents and use up what you have. This goes for making meal plans that use up the food you have on hand, as well as for finding uses for things you have in your home instead of replacing an item.

Check out this post: Save Money by Using What You Already Have at Home!

20 Things Frugal People Do Every Day

6. Exercise

Taking care of yourself is an investment in yourself. Medication for common health problems can be expensive, and as they say, prevention is worth a pound of cure. You don't need expensive gym memberships either. Find free fitness programs on YouTube, download nutrition plans for free and start moving your body!

Check out these Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training

7. Eat Seasonally

Food will probably be one of your largest monthly expenses, but it doesn't have to be if you plan accordingly. Eat seasonal foods that are often cheaper, stock up when you can, and pay attention to the loss leaders {the sale items at your grocery store often found in the circulars} and plan meals around those ingredients.

save money on food and drinks`

8. Drink Water

But not fancy water. Like actual tap water. I am surprised at how much people spend on bottles of water. Buy yourself a nice water bottle {I have this one} and take it everywhere. I can't tell you the last time I bought a bottle of water. And water can {and should} replace most beverages. 

library money saving tips

9. Frequent your Library

I am always amazed at how much our local library actually does for its residents. I can download audiobooks, reserve and read popular titles, print {in color even!} projects and get free museum passes. This description literally doesn't even touch the depth of what our library has to offer.

Check this out! Surprising library benefits that will save you money!

10. Research Before you Buy

This one is important because not only will research prompt you to step back from making an impulse buy on an expensive purchase, but it will actually help you purchase the right product before you buy. Quality items will last longer, and that will allow you the chance to use what you have for longer. Resale value is often higher and by taking the time to research a purchase, you give yourself time to evaluate your need for that particular item. 

Did you know the library often has access to Consumer Reports you can use for free? That's a great way to research those expensive products from dishwashers to cars. 


Don't miss the Jumpstart January challenge happening now! Join me for a pantry challenge this month and see how much you can save!

Don't' miss this! Sneaky Ways to Save More Money: Tips from our Depression-Era Grandparents

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