25 of the Best Household Budgeting Tips
Need a little extra help with budgeting and planning out how to spend money? Here are some great simple household budgeting tips that might help!
Household Budgeting Tips
Everyone can use a little help in sticking to their budget. It seems like one day you are sailing along just fine and then the next you hit a snag and you feel like the entire system is coming crashing down. My contributors and I here at Little House Living have put together this great list of our top household budgeting tips to try and help keep you on track. Make sure you comment with your best budgeting tip!
The Best Budgeting Tips
- Set priorities & Stick to them. Our priorities are rent, church&charities, savings, insurance, phone & internet bills, student loan payments & car upkeep. If those financial obligations are not met, we don’t spend $$ on clothes, crafts, fun foods, date nights, or road trips.
- Limit trips to the grocery store to avoid buying unnecessary items. The more trips I make to the store, the more little fun items I buy. A candy bar here, a bag of chips there. All that extra spending can really add up!
- Pay more than the minimum due. On bills, credit cards, and school loans, we throw more money into those payments than the minimum monthly amount in order to get them paid off quickly. Being debt-free is a priority for us.
- Buy used and/or DIY. Seriously one way we have saved a lot of money. Thrift stores, garage sales, hand-me-downs, Pinterest, and local experts are our best friends. Why spend more money when you don’t have to?
- Don’t get too stressed. Stressing out about budgeting is similar to spending too much money in that you are centering your life around money, which is not healthy. We find a balance between being wise with our finances and being flexible where we can.
Erin – Mr. & Mrs. Toews
- Never pay full price. If you can’t find it on sale, wait until you have a coupon or there’s a sale. This can take a lot of willpower, especially those of us that are used to instant gratification, but the savings will add up quickly!
- Sleep on it. Impulse buys are almost always a bad idea. When shopping online, bookmark the item or add it to your cart, but hold off at least one day to complete the sale. Waiting will allow you to consider all your options and decide if you truly need the item.
- Research, research, research! Chances are, it’s cheaper someplace else. When comparing food prices, use the price per pound, ounce, etc. This makes it easier to compare different sizes and brands.
- Get creative. Before buying something, consult your imagination and consider making it or making do instead. For example, my eight-month baby has quickly outgrown her onesies, but instead of buying bigger ones, I simply tuck them into her pants and use them at t-shirts. Also, old yogurt containers, jam jars, etc. are great for storage of leftovers and bulk food items, even nails or leftover paint (properly labeled, of course).
- Save Whenever Possible. This seems obvious, but what I mean is don’t automatically spend extra money that comes into the household. Immediately tuck bonuses or tax refunds into a savings account. Using it up on a new television or vacation might seem like a good idea at the time, but you’ll be missing that money when the car breaks down a few months later.
Amanda – Grace and Gusto
- Keep it simple. Do you really need to add whatever it is to your house? Will it cause clutter? Do you have a place to put it?
- Does it make your house beautiful or is it necessary to live? If neither…why are you buying it?
- Does it save you time, or somehow free up time to do something else that is more productive?
- Do you need a new version, when an older or used version would work?
- Can you really not meet your goal? Or is something holding you back? Could you push yourself to meet that goal even though things might be uncomfortable in the short term, you know it will benefit you in the big picture.
Merissa – Little House Living
- Use cash. My husband and I each give ourselves a weekly “allowance” in cash, and that is what we use if we want a Starbucks or other little indulgence. That way we don’t have to feel guilty about it, but once the money is gone, it’s gone.
- Watch electricity usage. Unplug small appliances after use. Your mother was right – turn off the lights when you leave the room!
- There are so many options for watching our favorite shows, it’s easier than ever to get by without cable. With Roku, Appletv, or another streaming player, you can get Netflix or Hulu on your tv for less than $10/month. We have Amazon Prime and Netflix, and are able to save $45 each month by not having cable or dish.
- Don’t buy new. Lately I’ve been challenging myself to not buy any household items brand new. Recently, I purchased both a clothes dryer and a kitchen table and 4 chairs on Craigslist. I saved 90% off what the new price would be for these items.
- Meal plan for every single meal. Base it around proteins you have and what’s in the pantry. This strategy saves me trips to the store (where I inevitably buy something that’s not on my list!) If you can meal plan in 2 or 4 week cycles, even better!
Sarah – Mindfully Frugal Mom
- Don’t be afraid to call for better price especially on interest rates, cable, internet, etc.
- Go down to one vehicle. Sounds crazy, but going down to one car for a period of time can help filter money into larger debt and save on a huge chunk of expenses.
- Stock up on items when they go on sale. Pretty much every item a store hits it’s rock bottom price every 8-12 weeks (8 in the South 12 in the North). Stock up on what your family will use within that time so that you’ll never have to pay full price.
- A twenty ounce bottle filled with water (or even a brick!) in your toilet’s tank will reduce water usage. Every bit counts!
- Barter with people you know for services. Babysitting for a haircut, mowing lawns in exchange for an oil change, etc.
Dominique – Barefoot in the Kitchen
Need more? Check out all these Frugal Budgeting Tips!
What are your favorite household budgeting tips? Share in the comments!
This article with Household Budgeting Tips was originally published on Little House Living in June 2013. It has been updated as of September 2020.
I have found using gift cards helpful for store shopping. When we do our budget for household items, groceries, pet food,gas, etc we get the same reusable gift cards and refill them with only the budgeted amount. Each gift card has a label on it with the budgeted amount marked. For example we have a small dog and budget on that gift card $20.00 per month for dog food etc. when that gift card is empty it does not get refilled until the next budget cycle. The gift card has a picture of a dog on it so it helps the kids to identify which gift card to grab as well! The gas cards help to keep us under budget as well since we typically get so many cents off. A lot of times we have extra gas money that carries over to the next budget cycle as well! Since we put cash on the cards it helps to keep us away from overspending!
I love this idea with the gas card. My husband seems to believe on some shorted out brain wave that he doesn’t spend that much on extras. I have him on a cash budget for odds and ends, but fuel he puts on the debit card. He loves to drive and now that he is retired he will go through $400-500 in a month if I don’t monitor and nag. He really thinks he only spent like $40. This solution of yours just lifted a huge weight from my shoulders. Thanks and God bless!
Great post! Thank you. And yes, gift carding sounds like a great idea – and electronic version of the envelope system which works well.
I do the gift cards too for expenses I know are reoccurring. My gas money goes on one, pet foods on another, etc. Then I only take that card into the store when that is all I need so I don’t impulse shop. It keeps me from eating out so much because I don’t have cash on hand and quite often I find myself having extra left over on each gift card allowing me to put less on it the next go around and pay more toward bills. Its been a lifesaver of a plan these past few months when my car unexpectedly died and I had to get under a new monthly car payment because I couldn’t afford to replace the computer system in the car.
I also belong to freecycle.com I’ve gotten lots of
stuff from that it helps save
When I was a young stay at home mom, I babysat for another working mother, but she was having a difficult time paying me. What worked out for our mutual benefit was to barter for the time, a load or 2 of wood, 1/2 a beef, etc. It worked out wonderfully for both of us.
For dining out I like to buy giftcards from discount sites. There is one that I go to through ebates so I get a small amount back there & usually get a $25 card for the restaurant for $20 or just under.
I only go grocery shopping once a month. Yes, it’s a big job, but I definitely spend more if I go more often. I’m blessed w/a lg pantry & I run it like a stockroom. I keep certain amts of everything – makes making a grocery list very quick! I get the majority of things at Aldi & the remainder at a local grocery chain store & BJ’s. We also rarely buy new, but we will pay for quality if it’s something we’ll use for a long time. Our favorite store is our local thrift store. All proceeds go to the Mennonite Central Committee which supports worldwide needs. Double bonus – we save money & what we have spent goes to a good cause instead of a CEO. With our statewide quarantine, we were going into thrift store withdrawal! I lost a lot of weight since last spring/summer & desperately needed clothes that fit & didn’t literally fall off. I had to buy new & it killed me! I got things that were on sale, but it still was more than I would’ve spent at the thrift store.