How We Budget
First things first, you want to make a list of all your necessary monthly expenses (rent, mortgage, car payments, loans) and subtract it from your income. If you need an easy spreadsheet to start with - message me your email and I will shoot one over to you!
Once you see how much you have after all necessary expenses you can budget whether you should spend money eating out with friends or be better budgeting for groceries, etc. Obviously, live within your means, always.
We love to eat out - but it's an obvious way to throw money away if you don't have to - we also budget ourselves on eating out based on other events happening around that time (holidays, hosting events, family visiting, gifts.)
After figuring out how to physically survive (paying for housing, your debt, your food) - this is where you can throw in other items you may consider necessary like gym memberships, security, cable, netflix. We recently cancelled cable because our promotional deal had gone up and we didn't feel it to be worth the extra money each month.
Instead of paying $120/month for basic cable and DVR we decided to switch to Sling TV and pay $30/month (we upgraded for MTV package, Hallmark, and DVR.) and we got an antenna for additional sports and news stations - this was an easy way to switch and we didn't have to sacrifice much while saving about $90/month.
We have one main credit card and one checking account - we pay for everything with the credit card and then just pay that off each month. This helps build your credit and has every expense in one location. Most of our bills are on auto-draft (you can set this to be on one certain day a month, such as pay-day, in hopes that it will help with not getting late payments.)
Our weekly meals are typically dependent on which items are on sale or in season that week. We love berries - but usually only buy them when they are in season. During the summer we lean more towards melons - because they are cheap, delicious, and have a huge quantity within just the one. I typically buy ground turkey, salmon, and chicken breasts for the week and if one happens to be on sale I may stock up and freeze them. It all just depends on what I can get my hands on and not spend and arm and a leg - and I usually have a "budget" as to what I spend each time at the grocery, but that fluctuates depending on if a sale is good and I can stock up :)
As a mom, a huge tip for saving money is buying kid's clothes for next year at the end of each season on sale! Every time I go to a store, I check the clearance aisles (always check the end caps at target - I have found some awesome deals there!) With kid's snacks, I tend to buy the big bagged items instead of the individual because I have found it's way cheaper to put the items in zip lock baggies myself :)
A challenging one for us is drinking coffee at home and packing lunches for work. Tyler brings a protein bar and a peanut butter sandwich for lunch every. single. day. Do not ask me how he isn't ravenous when he gets home at 3:30pm - I do not understand.
If I drank coffee out 4 mornings a week and Tyler had Subway everyday, that's $50+/week that is tossed out the window simply for convenience.
We use Amazon Prime and have a Target RedCard - this results in free shipping and additional money off of everyday items, I suggest both (especially for frequent online shoppers, shipping add up!)
You should always have at least three months rent (or mortgage) in a savings account before you start spending on vacations or other big purchases, Tyler taught me this three years ago and I thought it was the smartest (and most logical thing) anyone had ever told me, ha!
You shouldn't plan to buy a car unless you can pay it off in 3-5 years.
You should always pay off your high-interest debt first (personal loans, car loans, anything over 5% interest) and continue to make your minimum payments on everything else - you could make more money on saving or investing than you will by paying off low-interest rate items quicker (ie.mortgage, financed furniture...)