My wife and I are blessed in that we have never been forced to go on a budget per se. In other words, the best way to describe how we managed our finances and spending on a regular basis was chaotic.
We spend on the essentials like groceries of course, but we never had a rule of what we could or couldn’t spend eating out, on clothes, drinks, or anything else that we’d probably all consider non-essential.
Basically, if the purchase wasn’t outrageous, we just kind of went with it. I imagine there are plenty of people who don’t really think about what they’re buying so much, they just get whatever they want.
That has changed for us over the last several months. We’ve established a system where throughout the month, we work on putting together a list of any non-essential items we are thinking about buying. We avoid making those purchases all month.
At the beginning of the month, we review the list together and decide what’s on the list that is a MUST have. An example of this is we are getting a gate to put around our pool. Our daughter is now 18 months and with her walking, we must get a gate around the pool for safety reasons.
Anything on the list that is a must, we check our finances and work to get that purchase in.
Most other things on the list end up being “nice to haves”. While we let ourselves have nice to haves once in a while, we do try to limit ourselves. So once a month, we plan on our restaurant night and our non-essential purchases that are within our spending range.
This process has helped us tremendously and in a couple of months of practice, we reduced our credit card bills my more than half!
Give it a shot. Avoid the non-essentials until you can get them all at once. Most likely, you’ll avoid a swath of them when you review together.