If you´ve been reading my posts for a while you know that I have a great interest (okay, we can say obsession!) with budgeting. A while ago I wrote a few articles regarding budgeting, one of which focused on grocery shopping. To me, one of the biggest ways in which to save money for your family is in your grocery shopping. Techniques including coupon shopping and stockpiling can help not only improve the quality of food that you put on the table but also the balance in your checkbook.
Since that post, I´ve received several emails regarding budgeting. A few have requested that I help them set up a budgeting plan for their homes that focused on the kitchen: coupon clipping, stockpiling, and weekly menu planning based on sale items. This has been very interesting, and fun to do I must say, particularly when the client sees the savings and the great meals on the table each night.
I also received an email from one of my favorite magazines, Real Simple, who interviewed me for the March issue, which will focus in part on budgeting. During these emails, I was asked a lot of questions regarding budgeting, and I also had to address several misconceptions that, upon talking to each person, I realized must be misconceptions for many people who want to budget but who are afraid to try. So today I thought I would address those misconceptions.
1. Budgeting Means Skimping. Absolutely not! In the Real Simple interview, I was asked why I budget. Part of it is, of course, the desire to save money. But the other part is the desire to have nice things that the family wants. If we are constantly tossing away a nickel here and a dime there, we can´t afford a two-week family vacation each summer. However, if we save money where we can throughout the year, the two-week family vacation is a reality. Our family time is important to us, and so saving money in one area is definitely worth being able to go on a trip together each year.
2. Budgeting Means Losing Brand Names. Nope again! For instance, grocery shopping is much cheaper when you menu plan and use coupons to purchase sale items. You can buy generic, but I rarely do; we can buy brand name and pay less than generic when it is on sale and I have a coupon. This definitely requires a time commitment, because I do spend at least an hour or more each week looking through sale flyers, pulling coupons, and menu planning, but for me it is worth it. And I also shop different stores, including drugstores that offer rebates and special offers. But the time investment is worth it when I tally up my savings each week.
3. Budgeting Means Never "Fun Shopping´ Again. Misconception number three! You can enjoy shopping, especially since you are saving money in the process. You don´t have to give up your coffee out, your fashionable shoes, or your great clothes. If you are saving money in other areas of your life, you are able to spend more on the items you truly love. And if you start shopping sales and discounts, or even discount stores, you´ll find the fashions you love at lower prices.
One of the things that I truly believe is that you have to be able to spend money on yourself each month in order for budgeting to work. If you give up everything-your weekly coffee, your monthly lunch out, your new pair of shoes each paycheck-then budgeting will not work. Why? You´ll become frustrated and depressed and you´ll go out and splurge, thereby blowing your budget. You should always allocate a certain amount of "fun money´ to yourself each month in order to buy those things that you truly want, like that new pair of shoes. Then buy them and enjoy! Doing so will enable you to continue budgeting much longer than you would if you didn´t spend some money on fun things each month.