Change Your Payment Due Dates

If you ever look at your budget, you might notice that one payment period is a bit more “bill heavy” than another.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the due date on your bills was different?  Believe it or not, you can change the due dates on some* of your monthly bills!

 how to change the dates your bills are due

What most people do not realize is that creditors and even utility companies can change your payment due date.  Not every single customer’s bill is due on the same date every month.  Most of them have at least 2, if not 3, billing cycles they run each and every month.

If you think about it, that makes sense.  There is just no way any billing department could cover all of those payments coming in just one time every month.

This can play to your advantage. These companies will allow you to change when your bill is due by moving you into another billing cycle period.


There are some steps you need to follow to help you actually change your payment due date.  Make sure you follow them in order, to ensure that you change them properly the first time.

STEP 1:  List all payments by due date and by type

This is where your budget will help.  Take all of your monthly payments and list them out by the date they are due, the payee and the type of payment be it a fixed or changing amount.

This is important so that you can see when the bills are due and also which bills would work better into your budget if they were paid at a different time during the month.

For example, yours might look a little like this:

1st – Bank of America (fixed)
5th – AT&T Wireless (fixed)
5th – AT&T Uverse (fixed)
8th – Auto Loan #1
9th – City Water (variable)
12th – Electric company (variable — might try to level pay to make it fixed)
20th – Gas company(variable — might try to level pay to make it fixed)
21st – Auto Loan #2 (fixed)
25th – Insurance company (fixed)

…..just to list a few of your bills you might have.

STEP 2: Check the due dates

Now, look at the amounts you have to pay for each of those bills and when they are due.  In addition, look at what your pay period is.

For example, if you are paid on the 15th of every month, it might help if you could move your water and even cable bill to a bit later in the month (when you don’t have a large mortgage payment coming out of your income). That might be easier on your budget.  Here is how it might look if you moved payments around:

1st – Bank of America (fixed)
5th – AT&T Wireless (fixed)
5th – AT&T Uverse (fixed)  MOVE TO AFTER 15th
8th – Auto Loan #1
9th – City Water (variable)  MOVE TO AFTER 15th
12th – Electric company (variable — might try to level pay to make it fixed)
20th – Gas company(variable — might try to level pay to make it fixed)
21st – Auto Loan #2 (fixed)
25th – Insurance company (fixed)

STEP 3:  Call the companies

Of course, moving your due date works better based on what your budget dictates, but you need to make sure that you can actually do that.

Make a call to your company and ask them if there is any way to move your payment to a date after the 15th of each month.  If you find that they can not, then you might need to take a look and see if you can’t move the electric bill instead.

While it is ideal for you, keep in mind that you will still have to make your payment on the billing cycle date that they offer.  Most will not allow you to just select any day of the month, but will instead, offer you an alternative date instead.

One other thing to keep in mind is that if you make a change to your payment due date, it may require a higher payment the first billing cycle.  That will allow them to cover the additional period that you did not yet pay for (so if normally pay on the 12th and payment moves to the 25th,  you will have to cover any usage that might have taken place during those 13 days between the original payment and new payment due date).

Now, finalized your budget so you make your payments on a schedule which works best for YOU.

can I change when my bills are due

can I change when my bills are due

If you look at your budget and notice that all of your bills are due around the same time each month, you might be wishing you could change those dates. Well - you can! It is possible (and easy to) change the due date for your bills. It can really help you budget and plan much better when your bills align with your pay cycle.


How to Negotiate Credit Card Interest Rates

Want to negotiate your credit card interest rate? These tips might come in handy.

How to Get out of debt - lower credit card interest rates to save money

How to Get out of debt - lower credit card interest rates to save money

We have shared many tips on how to get out of debt.  Another thing that many have tried to do is to lower interest rates.  But, how do you negotiate your credit card interest rate?  I mean, is that even possible? Yes.  It is.

What many people may not realize is that interest rates are not set in stone.  There is flexibility to the rate you are charged.  However, you need to make sure you approach getting it lowered in the right way.


Believe it or not – it does.  For instance, if you have a credit card with an interest rate of 18% and a $5,000 balance, you will pay in excess of $2,900 in interest alone over the life of the debt.

If you are able to negotiate your rate down to 10%, you would pay around $1,200 in interest.  That is a savings of more than $1,700!!  Keep in mind again that this interest calculation is based upon paying a minimum payment only – and nothing more.

If you know it will take a longer period of time to pay off your debts, a lower rate can help.  That will reduce the amount you end up paying back to the lender.


Before you make a the call, make sure you have done your homework  You want to be ready to talk with them about possibly reducing your rate.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

Do your homework.  A credit card company is not going to lower rates simply because you call and sound like a nice person in a financial bind.  That is just not it works.  However, they will consider it if you find a competitor who has a lower rate.

Keep in mind that they will not consider introductory rates, but rather, on going rates. They may be more willing to reduce your rat if you can provide you can get a better rate elsewhere.

Speak with the right person. If you are serious about wanting to negotiate your rate, ask to speak to a supervisor.  The credit card customer service rep usually does not have as much authority or flexibility in being able to reduce your rate.  By speaking to a supervisor, you may have better luck.

Call at the right time.  If you are struggling and really want to reduce your rate, allow your account to be delinquent for 90 days.  After that time, the credit card company realizes you are struggling to make payments and that may open up the conversation to a potential rate reduction.

The 91 – 179 day window is the best for possible rate reduction.  The reason is that once an account has been delinquent for a period of 180 days, they sell off the debt to a collections company.  This will result in their receiving pennies on the dollar for your outstanding debt.   They would be much happier on doing what they can to get a little less interest from you than little to nothing on your debt.

Be polite and honest.  Whatever you do, be nice to the person on the phone.  Being rude or impatient will not help your case – at all.   Make sure that you also do not lie.  Do not say you have never had a late payment on any card if you have not.  They can pull up your records and see if you are telling the truth or not.

If you are struggling to make your payments due to a job layoff, or illness, let them know.  If they realize you have little to no income, they may be more willing to discuss a rate negotiation with you.

Be prepared to be told no.  If you do not have a good credit history, your chances of receiving an interest rate reduction are greatly reduced.  In fact, you might take some steps to repair your history before you even attempt to make a call.

Consider closing the account.  If they refuse, you might want to just go ahead and close the account for future activity.  If you are trying to get out of debt, this might be the best solution anyhow.   Make sure that you tell that to the rep and ask for them to send written documentation of the same.

You may not be successful in getting your rates reduced. But, at least you will have tried.

No matter what you find out, continue making your payments on time.  Try to pay more than the minimum payment each month if you can.  If you still can’t get a better rate, you might consider opening a new card and transferring the balance there.


My Debt Free Journey (Part 1)

This is my debt free story. I hold nothing back.

The real way I became Debt Free - My Debt Free Story

The real way I became Debt Free - My Debt Free Story

If you are in debt, you are not alone.  There are thousands of people across the country in your same shoes, but that is not who I am referring to.  I am talking about myself.  Me.  I’ve been there. I know what you feel.

Part of any change to your life is to get inspiration and help from others.  The truth is that I made a lot of mistakes over the years.  These have molded me into the woman I am today.  These are mistakes I never want to see others make.

I am sharing my own story with you below.  My hope is that you can learn from what I’ve done.  I would love to be the reason you are inspired to change your own financial situation.  It will mean a lot of hard work, but it will be worth it. I promise you.


Back in 2001, I was living my life as a twenty-something single woman.  I was in a relationship with someone who I thought was “the one.”  This was the time when I was simply enjoying my life.  I bought what I wanted.  A budget??  Pfffttt….that did not even exist.

I continually robbed Peter to pay Paul and lived paycheck to paycheck.  While I was making a decent wage, I still struggled.  It was because I did not manage my own finances.  My spending was out of control.

Credit cards were used to pay for nearly everything.  I used them to pay for my gas, my groceries and my clothes. Heck – there were even months when I used them to pay other credit card bills!


In December 2001, my relationship came to a screeching halt.  I was now responsible for myself.  There was no one else to help me cover my expenses.

I put a pencil to the paper and crunched the numbers and built my budget. In that moment I realized just how financially un-stable I was.  I was shocked (and very sad) at what I had done to myself.  I could not believe I had accumulated such a large amount of debt.  And, when I looked around, I had absolutely nothing to show for it.

It was an eye opener.  I knew that something had to change, but being young and a bit naive, I did what I thought was the only answer.  Filed for bankruptcy.


In August 2002, I walked into the courtroom and declared bankruptcy.  It was one of the lowest moments of my life.  However, at the same time, it was life changing.  In that moment, I vowed to never allow myself to get into that situation again – no matter what curve ball life might throw my way.

With that, I left the bankruptcy and my life behind me and moved to Kansas City.  It was time for me to take complete control of my life and ensure that it was headed in a direction that I wanted.

…..continue onto Part 2 of my journey.


How to Track Your Income (And Why It Matters)

We talk a bit about how to create a budget and why you need to have one.  Part of the process of your budget is to track your expenses, but, do you track your income?

Learn how to track your income - and why it is so important when it comes to learning how to create and run a budget.

Learn how to track your income - and why it is so important when it comes to learning how to create and run a budget.

The truth is that most people believe that only businesses need to really track their income.  After all, a business often has payroll, monthly/quarterly taxes and more overhead.  If they don’t track their income, they will know know if they are actually making a profit after deducting their expenses.

The thing is, in order to run your house efficiently, you need to track both your income and your expenses.

[bctt tweet=”In order to run your house efficiently, you need to track both your income and your expenses.” username=”@PennyPinchinMom”]

I see so many people who say they have a budget and they know how much they spend on everything – often down to the penny. However, if you ask them how much money they make, they have to stop and think about it.

If you aren’t tracking your income and expenses, you are not able to determine your own “profit.”  Your profit is not the same as that of a business.  Your profit is the additional amount you can use to pay off your debt, increase savings or even build you up your retirement account.


When most people look at their income, they instantly look at their paycheck.  This may be paid to them weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or even monthly.  The frequency of the payment does not matter.  It just matters that you track it accordingly.

There are many other types of income which may come your way:

  • Gifts
  • Refunds
  • Rebates
  • Tax returns
  • Garage sales
  • Survey sites
  • Cash back sites
  • Product sales
  • Side business income

When you start to have more than one source of income, it is wise to track it.  Using a simple spreadsheet can help you do just that.  This assists in you not only seeing how much money you make each month, but can help come time to file your taxes (as needed – see your tax professional for advice).

As the money comes into your house, you will want to track it.  Even if it is just $10, make sure you include it.


I am a spreadsheet gal myself. I love just entering an amount and seeing the totals automatically tally for me.  I have created a sheet which you can use here.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.28.36 AM

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.28.36 AM

Online Spreadsheet Format(will need to save to your drive to update)

To access this sheet, just click on the link.  You will then save it to your own Google Account (meaning, you will make a copy).

If you would rather have a sheet you can fill in by hand, we have one of those for you as well!  Just click on this image below, and the pdf will be downloaded to your computer.  You can then print and use it yourself.

income tracking sheet

income tracking sheet

Income Tracking Spreadsheet
(Click to download)

Using the form is very simple.

Income Source:  The name of the party who paid you.

Gross Income:  This is the net amount you were paid.

Net Income:  This is the amount of your check (in some cases, the gross and net will be the same amount).

If you use the spreadsheet, it will sub-total for you by month and by year.  If you do this manually, you will need to total and update as you make changes.

Of course, make sure you have your spending form and written budget in place before you jump in to start tracking your income!


Wants vs. Needs: How to Make Them Work In Your Budget

Define your wants vs. needs and how to fit them into your budget

Define your wants vs. needs and how to fit them into your budget

When it comes to how you spend money, you basically have two ways you look at it.  Is it a want? Or is it a need?  Ever since my husband and I worked ourselves out from more than $35,000 in debt, we ask ourselves this all of the time.

This is extremely important when it comes to looking at your budget.  Your needs include (not a full list):

  • A place to live, be it rent or a mortgage
  • Food to eat (not including dinners out)
  • Utilities (gas, electric, phone)
  • Health and personal care products
  • Insurance
  • Clothes (just enough – not name brand, over the top wardrobes)

We also always look over our wants as well. These can include:

  • Dining Out
  • More clothes (name brand)
  • Newer electronics or gadgets
  • Larger home
  • Newer vehicle

We always make sure our budget covers our needs first and foremost.  Our budget rarely changes as we have worked hard to tweak it to make it work for us.

Do we have wants in our own budget?  Of course we do! In our own budget we include a category called family spending – for random things we want to do with the kids.  This includes dinners out with the kids.  We even allow for a bit more for our clothes to get a few nicer things (all on sale of course).  And although we have vehicles which are paid in full, we try to save for a newer one, which we know we will need eventually.


This can be a struggle, to determine if you really need something or if it is a want.  I can completely relate.  We own a 2005 Honda Odyssey.  It is completely paid for and so there is very little cost associated with owning it.

We just pay our insurance premiums and save monthly to cover the annual taxes. Each month, we set a little back for maintenance such as oil changes, and tires.  There is money there should we end up having a large expense. Thankfully, we’ve only had one issue with our vehicle in the ten years we’ve owned it.

The mini van runs perfectly fine.  In fact, it drives like it did the day we purchased it.  It is clean.  I mean, really clean.  I keep it vacuumed and we don’t allow drinks or much food inside.  The only time we might is when we do a road trip (and then, we are careful about what we allow the kids to bring along with them).  I keep it maintained with oil changes and tire rotations.  Everything works.  There is nothing wrong with my van.



However, I find myself struggling as I have my eye on a different vehicle.  It is actually one of my dream cars – a Buick Enclave. I just love them and I really, really want one.   We don’t want a brand new one, just one that is used will be perfect for us.  We have even considered test driving one.


Why haven’t we gone ahead and done that?  Simple.  I have determined that a new vehicle is an absolute want and not a need.

My van, which is now 12 years old has less than 110,000 miles on it.  There is nothing wrong with it. It is so convenient with 3 kids getting in and out of it as the doors slide open with the touch of a button. Again, there is nothing wrong with my van. I do not need a new car – I want a new car.

This does not mean we can’t afford one.  We have no debts and could pay for it between trade in and our budgeted savings.  However, we won’t.  Not yet, at least.  There is no need for me to get a new vehicle at a cost of more than $25,000 when I do not need to.  No need at all.


I had to really ask myself why I wanted this van.  I determined that I was just bored with mine.  I wanted the thrill of a new vehicle.  I wanted the excitement you get with something new.   That was all great, but the ultimate question was this:  “Will this new car make me happy?”  I answered that quickly with a “no.”  Not happy in the long term.  I will pay more in insurance premiums. I will pay more in taxes.  My savings will need to be built back up again.  The new will wear off after a short time and I’ll be right back where I am again. Back here with less money in the bank.  Back here wondering if something better is out there.

So, after much soul searching and thinking, I’ve decided not to get a vehicle right now.  I know that there will be at time when I need to do it, and I will get one at that time. I know at that time, it will have moved more from the want to a need and then, it will be the right time.


Take a good look at your budget.  If there is plenty of room, then you might be able to make the want work.  But, is it really something you are willing to pay for?  Is the value there and is it really worth it?

Only you can answer these questions.  After a lot of thinking you might consider that want just that – a want.  It may be that you don’t really need it as badly as you think.


How To Cut Your Budget — When There Is Nothing Left To Cut

It is no secret that you need to make a budget.  But, what do you do when you can’t make the numbers work? This is a common question people ask themselves.  So, how do you cut your spending?

what to do when your budget does not work - calculator and pencil doing the math

what to do when your budget does not work - calculator and pencil doing the math

I remember when my husband and I were struggling after I quit my job to stay home with our firstborn.  It was tough, and we all know you can’t get blood from a turnip!

Before you look at what you can do to save on your budget, you need to make sure you have one.  Your budget needs to be in writing. It needs to be a roadmap showing you where you will spend your money.

If you are just learning about budgeting, you will want to check out our page — How to Budget. There, you will learn everything you want to know about budgets and budgeting.


1.  Find ways to bring in more money each month

Of course, you can’t give yourself a raise at your job, but there are other things you can do to bring in more money.  You can sell items you no longer need or find a part-time job.

If your budget is not working no matter what you’ve tried, it is time to make some tough choices.  And, it may mean it’s time for another job to help you make your budget work.

Read More: 75+ Ways To Make Money

2.  Don’t be so hard on yourself

Sit back for a minute and look at where you were before you knew about budgeting and stretching your dollar vs. where you are now.  Be proud of what you’ve done and the changes you’ve made.  Sometimes, just knowing that you’ve made positive financial changes is enough to be proud about.  Just celebrate the small victories.

3.  Don’t compare yourself to others

You may see others who claim that they found a way to shave their budget by hundreds of dollars every month.  While we would all love to be able to do that, it may not be realistic for you.  You may have additional expenses others do not have.

Your income is different than them.  You have your own financial goals.  When you stop comparing yourself to others, the need to keep up and compete will stop, and you can feel better about your budget.

4.  Look at your needs vs. wants

There are probably things you have in your life that are wants rather than needs (and vice versa).  Do you have both a landline and cell phone?  If so, do you need both or do you want both?  Maybe it’s time to drop one of them to save money.

Take a look at your entertainment.  Do you need cable or can you find an alternative that will save you money? Do you need to eat dinner out once a week – or do you want to dine out?

Take our situation for example.  When we were getting out of debt, we did not eat in a restaurant for more than a year.  It was tough, but we survived.  The reason was that we determined that it was a want to dine out and not a need.  Instead, we took the money we would have spent having a dinner out and used it towards our debt instead.

Read More:  How Your Needs vs. Your Wants Can Affect Your Budget

5.  Seek assistance

Now might be the time when you need to reach out to get help.  You may need to look at local programs or services that can help you with your bills. Check with your local government to find ways to get help with utility bills, apply for food stamps, locate a food pantry and even get assistance for child care.

Just because you ask for help does not mean you are not financially responsible.  We all have times when we need a hand, and these organizations are here to help.  Once you get back on your feet, then that will be your chance to pay it forward to help someone else.

6.  Cut your food bill

It sounds simple, but you need to cut back on your spending. Perhaps you need to cut out some of the convenient foods you normally buy or make less expensive meals.

Start to use coupons!  While you may not find them for the fruits, vegetables, and meats you need, you can find them for the household products you use and many other products around your house.  Combine these with sales to ensure you pay the lowest price possible.

You might also consider changing where you shop.  One idea is to shop at Aldi.  If you live near one of these locations, you can easily cut your spending by nearly 50% just by shopping here!

Read More:  How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

7. Lower your utility expenses

You can’t live without water and electricity, but you may be able to steps to reduce how much you spend.  Turn off the lights in rooms when they aren’t in use.  Keep the blinds closed to keep the heat out (or in, depending on the season).

Take a look around the house and unplug anything when not being used.  Electronics can still draw a charge when plugged in, even if you are not using them.

Finally, reach out to a provider like BillCutterz to see if they can’t negotiate rates down on your behalf.

Read more:  50+ Ways to Lower your Monthly Utility Bill

8. Eliminate subscriptions

Take a look at all the monthly services you pay for.  You may have a gym membership, Netflix or streaming service or additional services you are not using regularly.  When you continue to pay for something you are not fully using, you are wasting money.

9.  Use Cash

I know it sounds crazy, but it works.  When you use cash for your discretionary spending you can never overspend.  So, if you need to lower your grocery spending, the simple way to ensure you do not overspend is to get cash.

Cash is defined, and when it is gone, it’s gone. It is a simple tool that you can use to ensure that you always stay on budget and help keep your spending in check.

Read More:  How to create a cash budget

If your budget is not working, then it is time to make some big moves. It will not be fun. It will not be easy. But it is something you just have to do.


My Secret Tricks To Help You Spend Less and Save More

Trying to spend less and save more money?  These are the tricks I have used and the best part of all is that they really work!

Learn how to spend less and save more money as we teach you how to budget and get out of debt

Learn how to spend less and save more money as we teach you how to budget and get out of debt

It is simple to make a resolution, but the trick is finding ways to actually keep it and make it happen. This week, we will share our tips on how to make the top five resolutions work for you.  We will even share tips to make any change in your lifestyle actually work well (in case your idea is not listed here).

The number 5 resolution was: Spend Less, Save More.  This sounds like a simple concept. You just want to watch your spending, right?  In theory, yes.  But, how do you actually make this happen?  When it comes to finances, there is much more than just finding a deal at the store.  Here are things you need to do in order to ensure you spend less and save more in 2016.

Tips to reaching your Financial Resolutions in the New Year! These are SO smart!!

Tips to reaching your Financial Resolutions in the New Year! These are SO smart!!

Set a goal.  Why do you want to save more?  Do you want to get out of debt?  Do you want to increase your retirement savings?  Perhaps you want to go on a trip at the end of the year.  Whatever the reason, you need to write it down.  Say that with me  – Write. It. Down. Then, place that goal where you will see it every single day.

When you put your financial goals in writing, it makes them real. You can see where you are going as it is right in front of you. It might be on your bathroom mirror in the morning to remind you why you are going to work today.  It might be a photo clipped in your wallet to remind you of the trip before you decide to go and get that latte.

Tips to reaching your Financial Resolutions in the New Year! These are SO smart!!

Tips to reaching your Financial Resolutions in the New Year! These are SO smart!!

Create and follow a budget.  If you plan a road trip to a new destination, you’d use a map, right?  The same idea is true when it comes to a financial plan.  You have to know how you are going to reach your financial goals.

The first thing you must do is create a budget.  We’ve got an easy post you can follow  – Budget Beginnings.  This will help anyone who is new to setting up a budget know where to start.

Tips to reaching your Financial Resolutions in the New Year! These are SO smart!!

Tips to reaching your Financial Resolutions in the New Year! These are SO smart!!

Set small milestones. Now that you know how you are going to reach the goals you have set, you need to celebrate the small victories.  Break your goal up into smaller sections so you can see that you are making progress.

For instance, if your goal is to save $5,000 for a trip, break that savings into time frames.  Make your goal to save $1,000 in 3 months.  Then, when you reach that goal, celebrate it. I don’t mean go out and blow money. Just revel in the fact that YOU DID IT! You are proving to yourself that you can do it. That will motivate you to move on and maybe increase your goal to $1,500 over the next three months.

Tips to reaching your Financial Resolutions in the New Year! These are SO smart!!

Tips to reaching your Financial Resolutions in the New Year! These are SO smart!!

Automate as much as possible. It is simple to decide that you don’t want to save as much out of this week’s paycheck because you want to go out to dinner at that new expensive restaurant.  It might also be tempting to not put that $75 into savings so you can get that adorable new handbag you saw that the store.  This is why you should automate as much as possible.

If you set up to make automatic payments or even transfers to your savings or investment accounts, you can’t spend the money on anything else.  It just simply is not available (well, you could try, but you may risk overdrawing your account).

Take a look at your financial institutions and find a way that you can set up direct deposits, transfers or automatic bill payments.  That way, you won’t be tempted to stray from your goal.

Tips to reaching your Financial Resolutions in the New Year! These are SO smart!!

Tips to reaching your Financial Resolutions in the New Year! These are SO smart!!

Check in often.  Builders don’t grab plans to a home, look at them once and then never again.  Walls would not line up, the rooms might end up too small and it, quite frankly, just would not work.  The same is true with your finances.

Sit down at least once a month and check in. If you have a spouse or partner, it is even more important to do this.  You need to always check to make sure you are on track.  Expenses might change.  Income may also fluctuate.  Have regular meetings to go over your budget and check the path of your goals and make any changes as necessary.

These are the first things you should do to get yourself onto the path of financial independence.


My Simple Trick For Always Staying On Budget

No matter how much you make (or don’t), it is essential that you have a budget. It is your roadmap for your spending.  But, sticking to the budget? That’s something entirely different.  Fortunately, I’ve figured out a simple trick that you can use to help you always stay on budget!

Tricks to making a budget work

Tricks to making a budget work

My husband and I have a budget (just like many of you do – and if you don’t, you need to make a budget).  We also use cash for most of our spending.  Now it is down to a science and our budget always works.

However – that was not always the case.  There was a time when my cash budget didn’t work.

My husband and I had been looking back to our regular spending to determine how much to budget for our groceries.  We created our spending plan and figured out that we were spending around $550 a month.  So, for us, the logical thing was to reduce our spending, so why not lower groceries to $500 and just make it work? That should work – right?  Wrong.  At least not for us.

The problem was that while it appeared that dropping our spending by $50 to increase savings (which we wanted to get out of debt) was a smart move, it apparently wasn’t.


We kept trying everything we could think of to keep us staying on budget.  I was clipping more coupons. Both of us changed our shopping habits (or so I thought).  However, it didn’t matter. I was coming up short every. Single. Month.

After some time, I decided that I had to make a change. But how?  What could we do? We had already tried to lower our spending but were spending more. Then I had an idea.

One month, I tried to challenge myself. I tried to increase our grocery budget from $250 per pay period to $350 per pay period. Then, as I shopped, I challenged myself to see if I could spend less.

Since our we were still in debt, I was trying to build up our emergency fund.  We were getting close to our goal, but I wanted to find a way to get there more quickly. Something crazy happened that month.  I spent less.  Not just $100 less, but $150 less.

Just like that, I was spending what I had budgeted — several months earlier!!!

It was crazy, and I could not believe I had done it.  Honestly, the first time it happened, I thought it was just a fluke, so I did it again.  And it worked.  I kept repeating this same process, and suddenly, I was spending less at the store AND having more money for savings.

My simple silly trick for always staying on budget is to over budget. I know, it sounds insane, but the thing is that it works.  At least for us.

We really only do this with our groceries category, as that is the one area where we always spend money. It is a given, and it is required for us to live.  I can’t really over budget for our electric and then challenge myself to use less, as I just don’t see the results in the same way.

However, when I have my cash envelope in front of me, it does.  When I pull out the cash I did not spend at the end of our two week period and see a stack of 20 dollar bills, it is thrilling.  That is money saved. It is in my hand, and I can see it.


Honestly, it is psychological.  When you set strict limits on yourself, it can sometimes be overwhelming.  There is the fear of messing up.  One simple mistake can lead to quickly overspending.  That makes you feel like you’ve failed.  And, when you fail at something, you just want to quit and give up.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The reason your budget fails is due to your attitude. #money” quote=”The reason your budget fails is due to your attitude. #money” theme=”style2″].

Think about it.  If you change the way you look at your budget, it can be an instant change in your money attitude.  Don’t look at it as what you can’t spend money on  — but rather what you can.

When you allow yourself some wiggle room in the budget, you may find that you too spend less.  You are more motivated to make it work.  You see the success right there in front of you.

However, if there is a month when you do end up spending the entire amount you’ve budgeted for that line item – it is OK.  There is no stress because you’ve overspent.  Nope.  You’ve spent the amount you budgeted.  It just means no extra savings that month.

Once you can change your attitude and know how you handle money, you can change your budget.  That can change your spending and result in success in actually following — and sticking to — your monthly budget.

how to stick to a budget

how to stick to a budget


15 Things Only People With a Budget Truly Understand

My husband and I have had our written budget in place since November 2008.  Before that, we were more of a “well, I have a list of the bills I need to pay” type of couple.

Our budget helped lay the framework to help us dig out from more than $35,000 in debt in a little more than 2 years.  It truly was the jump start we needed in order to reach our goal to be debt free (outside of our mortgage).

what people who budget have in common

what people who budget have in common

As we look back at the way we looked at money both pre and post budget, it is amazing the difference.  The way we look at money and how we handle it has changed greatly!

I recently found Dave Ramsey’s post about 19 Things Only budgeters understand.  As I read the list I chuckled and nodded as I read through them.  I decided to create my own list of things only those with a budget will truly understand.  Let me know which ones you can relate to.

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Things Only People With a Budget Truly Understand

1. You don’t hit the grocery store without a list in hand.  And your list was created from your menu plan. No more random tossing of groceries and hoping that when you get home there is a meal in there somewhere.

2. No more buyer’s remorse.  You saved for it. It is in the budget.  No worries that you can’t pay the mortgage because you went shopping.

3. This year’s vacation has already been paid for and you are planning out next years.

4. January is your favorite month of the year – because you don’t have to worry about bills coming in the mail and can instead update the budget because of an income adjustment.

5. You get giddy when you see your budget hits zero.

6. Sales emails go into your trash can.  Who gets tempted to shop every time you see a “free shipping” or 50% off deal?

7. Your friends ask you for help with their own finances.

8. You enjoy infomercials for the entertainment value only. I mean, if they really did what they promise, it might be fun to buy them….oh, who am I kidding.  We’d never buy that stuff!

9. You know how to walk away and think twice before you buy.

10. Within two weeks your toddler floods the upstairs toilet (which ruins the kitchen ceiling), the garage door needs to be replaced and the air conditioner goes out.  You just roll with it because it is life and you have emergency savings for this reason. (Yes, this is a true story).

11. Date night doesn’t mean a fancy dinner out, but pizza and your budget.

12. You know, within a dollar, how much money you have in all of your accounts.

13. You hate your car, but you hate car payments more.

14. Overdraft fees?  You mean they still charge those?

15. You say “not in the budget” and your kids know what it means.

So, which of these do you relate to?

things people with a budget understand

things people with a budget understand