Budgeting 101 Article - Allrecipes.com
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Budgeting 101

Budgeting made easy.

How to Make a Budget

  • Make a running list of what you spend for one month. Include food, gas, mortgage/rent, utilities, miscellaneous (entertainment, dinners out, clothing, personal care items, tuition). Save receipts. Write down every single penny you spend.
  • Write down annual expenses: auto insurance, home insurance, medical costs (prescriptions, doctor visits, health insurance), planned vacations, and savings. Divide these expenses by twelve. This is the amount you will need to set aside monthly for annual items.
  • Set up a basic budget worksheet. At the top of the page list monthly spendable income--that's your gross income minus taxes and automatic payroll deductions. Underneath, line by line, list each monthly expense from steps one and two. Next, add up monthly expenses and subtract them from your spendable income. If there's a surplus, good. Tuck it away in savings. If the balance is negative, look back to your running list and figure out where to make cuts. Three good places to cut: the food budget, annual items (travel) or the miscellaneous category.
  • Put aside money every month for savings and emergencies. If you're paid monthly, allot money to savings using your budget worksheet. If you're paid weekly or bi-weekly, stash the extra checks (it will be either two or four each year) into savings.
  • Revise your budget. Expenses change and so do spending habits. Review your budget worksheet frequently to see where you can pinch more pennies, particularly at the supermarket. If necessary, repeat step one periodically so that you don't lose track of where your money goes.

    Supermarket Savings Tricks

    • Double up on coupons. It's okay to use a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon at the same time.
    • Forget brand loyalty. You'll save more with store brands or sale items. One exception: buy name brands when they're on sale for less than store brands.
    • Buy fruits and veggies in season. Not only does local produce taste better, but it's usually much cheaper than items shipped from other parts of the world.
    • Shop from a list and stick to it. Impulse buying adds up quickly. It's way too easy to pick up items you want (but don't really need) as you wander store aisles.
    • Pay attention to prices of items you routinely buy in every store you frequent. Keep a mental tab (or write it down) so you'll know who has the best prices.
    • Play the match game. Bring sale circulars from other stores to a supermarket that matches sale prices. That way you can do all your shopping in one place and still get all the best prices.

      Jackie Director 
      Feb. 3, 2011 12:48 pm
      Great tips for my new job. Thanks allrecipes for the help and recipes.
      Feb. 15, 2011 5:23 am
      Make a list and, most importantly, stick to it.
      Mar. 19, 2011 5:59 pm
      Buy in bulk when on sale. You'll need it later so you may as well buy it when it's cheaper. Watch out though, some stores have quantity limits. I also plan my meals by what's on sale that week. You can grow your own vegetables during the summer too. If you have a cold room to store them in they can last you a good part of the winter. With a little planning ahead I managed to cut my monthly food bill in half.
      Mar. 24, 2011 5:22 am
      I am retired so I can go to the supermarket on Monday...one of my local supermarket offers a 50% reduction on baked goods (bread, cakes, cookies etc) I often buy deserts and freeze them.
      Oct. 14, 2011 9:09 am
      Some grocery stores offer a discount for the over-50 crowd on delegated days. One store discounts 5% on Wednesdays.
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