Where are you tightening the budget right now?

Discussion in 'Budget & Bargains' started by Cindylouwho, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. Cindylouwho

    Cindylouwho Well-Known Member

    Okay, so you've budgeted, you've saved, you've purchased items on sale earlier in the year, you've narrowed down your bottom-line gift list and made all the promises-to-self that you are only getting what is on the list and you are not going to blow it and buy more than you need.

    Now, where are you reeeeeallly watching this year? What are the items that trip you up that you are watching closely to make sure you don't get nailed on this year:

    Here are some of mine:

    Deadlines -- I often get nailed by late-shipping fees which are not budgeted.

    Groceries -- My go-to store for the best prices at holiday jacked their prices last year and as I was shopping last minute I was not prepared. This year, I'm really watching those circulars. Will start a whole 'nother thread on groceries in a minute.

    Veggies & Quick-spoilage items -- I'm not buying it if it isn't being used immediately. No room in budget for foods that go bad before I use them.

    Kids Snack Foods -- I am reducing the everyday garbage to make room in the budget for the holiday garbage.

    Gas -- I am buying as much as I can online to avoid the gas costs. At $70 to fill my tank, it really makes a difference.

    Wrapping supplies -- Especially tape! This stuff often gets me. I'm going to use up ALL of my old and tear apart my house to unearth more before I buy new.

    Starbucks -- Have to have the Eggnog Latte but I'm not having it often.

    What areas are you watching closely? What strategies are you using to cut corners on the costs? What little things trip you up?
  2. HouseElf

    HouseElf Well-Known Member

    Car - we traded in our family van for a small commuter vehicle. EVEN with the gas and combined car payment we are spending LESS a month than the cost of just filling the van up!

    Groceries - shopping the sales, keeping seasonal, avoid impulse purchases and making a meal plan (and sticking with it).

    Library - making GOOD use of it! They often have the book I want to read, movies the boys may like, great British TV shows, and I can order in through inter-library loan what they may not have!

    Community - discovering what is available for free or almost free (like next week we are going to see the 'sounds of Christmas' a non denominational choir night for the cost of a 'free will donation' or next month when our Chiropractor partners with the arena for a weekly free skate)...
  3. candysprinkles

    candysprinkles New Member

    This year is really tight for us. I am really glad that we set back Christmas money from our tax check. We actually had to borrow from it twice, but were able to pay it back minus $40 we spent just this week on oldest ds birthday.

    Groceries...always working in that area. I shop from a list. I make the list based on the ads of what are on sale and the meal planning idea list I have. So, basically the meals are planned based on whatever I can find on sale. I do have a stocked pantry for staples, and always keep an eye out for sales on holiday extras. This week for example, Chex cereal was on sale for our homemade holiday chex mix.

    Library...ours finally came around to the digital age a few weeks back. I borrowed and finished a Debbie Macomber Christmas title on my Kindle this week!! I glanced at the magazines at the library and at Walmart. Haven't bought any...but I did get a holiday Good Housekeeping in the mail today.

    Wrapping/Tape/Crafts I think I have all of this covered. I haven't really bought anything since Christmas clearance last year. I have a box of tape, bows, a wrapping tote full of Christmas and Craft paper, a stash of bags, bow, tissue paper, and a few reusable fabric gift bags I have made over time. I have run out of tape before in a wrapping frenzy...but made due with glue sticks, string/ribbon, scrapbook photo splits, etc. whatever I could find. I am using it all up and the plan is to not buy anything in that area this year. One thing I have done this year is stay OUT of the craft stores. I have SO many projects, so many supplies. I just need to stay away.

    It is all the little things that add up that usually catch me. Candy for the advent calendar, stocking stuffers, postage for the Christmas cards, gift exchange/secret santa, candy\trinket donations for school party, etc. The kids field trips, extra curriculars...it seems like every week one of the kids needs $15 for the tshirt for X activity. geesh.
  4. missjane

    missjane Well-Known Member

    I am trying to cut back on gasoline this year. Everytime I have to go to the large town 50 miles away where all the major stores are, I try to stay as long as I can doing everything I need to do there so I don't have to go back the next week or a few days later. Also, if I am going somewhere with someone else and they offer to take their car, I accept. (Yes, I'm a control freak and think I have to be the one to always take my car, so this is a big step for me!)

    I am resisting the urge to buy new wrapping paper when I see it and planning my colors, themes around what I already have. I did buy two new garlands and two reindeer, but those were planned purchases that I had saved the money for and were on my list from after Christmas last year as things I wanted this year.

    I am watching what I spend on each person more closely this year and sticking with it. I always see so much I want to get for everyone. I like the element of surprise, getting them something they didn't ask for, but I know they would love. I'm trying to stick more closely to what they have told me they want.

    I started buying baking essentials a couple of months ago when my local grocers were putting them on sale. I have a well stocked pantry and freezer which I am cooking from, trying to go to the grocery store as little as possible except for replenshing perishable items.

    CS, I know what you mean about the T-shirts, etc. Our school sells them for everything! And DD15 is always having to have money for this, that, or the other at school...seems it's never ending.

    I'm trying to make do with my wardrobe this year, too. I need some more winter shirts, but am trying to wait until the clearance sales start after the first of the year. Same with shoes.
  5. Cindylouwho

    Cindylouwho Well-Known Member

    Wow - -these are really good! Keep'em coming!
  6. sierra_mtns

    sierra_mtns New Member

    The one thing I have done for several years is grocery cards. I have a monthly grocery budget and when i don't spend everything in the budget, I put the unspent funds on a grocery card. My Kroger card lets me put any amount of money on it, so if I only have $3.24 unspent, that's how much I can put on the card.

    That way I have extra funds on grocery cards to take advantage of holiday sales, post holiday sales or even case lot sales. Right now I have $218 on a Kroger card to use. If I use $100 in two separate shopping trips, I can get two free 20lb. turkeys.
  7. Miss JoDee

    Miss JoDee Well-Known Member

    My husband and I usually do the food shopping together. Last time we went, Aldi had some great clearances. A $20.00 stove top popcorn popper for $6.99 and pizza stone for $6.99. I took three poppers and 1 stone--they will make great gifts I told my husband. Before getting into the checkout line we always look at the cart for what we can put back---you are so right I put back the poppers and stone.

    Check in (the cart) before you check out.
  8. Minta

    Minta Administrator Staff Member

    This year we decided to forgo concerts and disney ice show. Save a lot $ right there. We took the kids last year to the Disney Ice show and this years show is similar so we felt it would not have been worth it.

    When it comes to doing Christmas related activies outside the home with the kids, we are stay closer to home to save on gas.

    Groceries: shopping sales and matching with coupons and stocking up on items that I know we will need. Making homemade pizzas instead of ordering pizza.

    Kids snacks : we already have an airpop pocorn machine so we make air popped popcorn. Instead of buying peanubutter / cheese sandwich crackers I am buting boxes of crackers and blocks of cheese on sale. The kids can make their own cracker snacks.
  9. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    I am just about to sit down and re do the baking schedule. There were some things that I baked last year that were well past the best and I ended up throwing out.
    This was a waste of both time and money.
    I am going to ask the kids real soon what their favorites are, what we cannot live without and maybe add just one new thing to try.
    I also have to consider that it is hot here over Christmas and we often don't have the appetite that we do in the winter.
  10. Minta

    Minta Administrator Staff Member

    I was just thinking the same thing over the weekend. I want to sit the family down and list what their favorites are and just single batches. In the past I have done ALOT of baking and gave out cookie platters as gifts. Will scale that way back this year... May just make fudge instead to hand out and just keep the cookies for us. We wasted to much last year by throwing a ton of stale cookies.
  11. Winged One

    Winged One New Member

    This year, I have made a more careful budget for gifts, and already found a few bargains to keep to it. Of things that I know the recipients will love, and for specific people.

    I bought a couple of rolls of wrapping paper in January (for 5% of December prices!!) and I am using up all the old stuff this year (older rolls and those new rolls) before I even think about buying more. And the same with ribbons etc. And no new crafting supplies unless I have a VERY specific project that I know I will do (which, so far, is none).

    The grocery budget had slipped again recently, so I am hauling that back under control. I tend to not buy a whole load of treats for Christmas anyway - a bag of amaretto biscuits for me, a packet of shortbread to share, a relatively large bag of Belgian orangettes chocolates (about $6 worth) - but no tins of chocs or biscuits at all. I do get a few nice packets of biscuits - so if we do have visitors, I can open those, but I have mince pies too, and if we DON'T get lots of visitors, the packets are fine unopened until we want them whereas the tins tended to go stale before we'd eat them.

    Christmas and the height of summer are the only time of year when we buy large bottles of soda (coke, sprite, fanta etc) as there are more kids and non-drinking adults around so they'll get used. But the rest of the year, we buy multipacks of cans instead, so they don't go flat and we aren't tempted to use up the rest of the bottle "just because".

    I need to consider food for the week we're away - make sure I have options with us (bring from home, or do a grocery shop on arrival) for dinners, but also making sure that they are options I can shelve if we end up eating in other relatives' houses unexpectedly (my parents, DH parents, DH Bro, DSis) or out with them in town (or just delayed ourselves in town).

    Luckily, our library just re-opened so we can borrow books again, and they've really increased their DVD selection (I got the full series 1 of Grey's Anatomy last week!!).
  12. Winged One

    Winged One New Member

    Oh, and I have decided that, assuming we get tickets to the Santa train, we will not be getting any other tickets this year. We have enough going on. And I don't think either family are likely to be in the mood to want to go to the panto as a group - so we will leave that for next year instead when we are back to just us up here (or even overseas, fingers crossed!!).
  13. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    I've been mulling over what to do about baking this year myself. Not knowing if we will be in apartment still or back in the house by December also complicates things.

    Right now I have a hazy plan of making/freezing cookie dough as usual - but probably in a more limited fashion - and taking advantage of DMIL's kind offer to borrow some of her deep freezer space.

    Other areas of the budget I'm trying to get a handle on include gift giving and wrapping supplies.

    I have no clue what wrapping supplies I even have left at this point. I know there are rolls of paper in one of the storage units but they are WAY up high in the back on stack of boxes I can't get to. No idea if they smell like smoke or not. My guess is they probably do and just need to be pitched.

    Does anyone know the best place to buy plain brown kraft paper in bulk?

    As far as gift giving goes, I've snagged some toys on clearance for DS and have started craft projects to make more.

    So much to consider!
  14. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    Have started my Christmas baking and I am really cutting back on what I have baked in previous years. Some years we waste a lot of food. I have also stopped stocking up on "stuff" in case people drop in. People don't drop in anymore, and if they do I have more than enough here.
  15. Winged One

    Winged One New Member

    OK, I caved on the panto. I used some of an unexpected windfall to treat DD to a night out with DH and I just before Christmas, and go to her first panto. But it was from funds I had in my hand, and I put a very large chunk of those funds into the savings account.

    I had been thinking about getting "candy cane" red stripes in my hair again this Christmas (the reddest highlights I can get, but in big chunks throughout the hair for impact not little bits scattered for a gentle overall effect). But while I will need a cut to keep it under control, I will leave it at that and not get the colour.
  16. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    Winged one, sounds like a good compromise, get the cut but not the colour. We still need pampering at this time of year. Have fun at the panto.
  17. Cindylouwho

    Cindylouwho Well-Known Member

    I'm looking at these exact things too this year. AND the hair color. These three things alone (Baking, extra foods and hair appts) can easily eat up $200+. Baking supplies alone cost me $75 one year and I've never forgotten it. (It was the nuts that got me).
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013

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