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Budgeting How to stay within your budget?
It’s important to set a budget for your spending. You can often get stressed when you aren’t saving enough. The best thing is to strike a balance between how much you save and how much you spend. Most importantly, recognize that putting away savings each month is critical to get you on track, regardless of your financial situation.
- Set your goals
- Track your spending
- Create a budget
Download our Monthly Budget Sheet to help you achieve your goals.
Grocery shopping trips usually include many purchasing decisions. It is important to plan ahead to stay within your budget at the supermarket.
- Set a limit: Give yourself a weekly grocery budget. Figure out how much you have available to spend before you go to the store and stay within your budget.
- Compare your options:
- Is there a discount for a bigger package or a larger quantity?
- Are there a number of brands to choose from?
- What are the price differences?
- Is the least expensive item the best choice?
- Stick to a grocery list: Before going to the store, make a list. This will help prevent impulse buying and eliminate the need for additional trips to the store to pick up forgotten items.
- Check for coupons or weekly specials: Most supermarkets have weekly specials advertised in store. Make sure to check whether there are any specials on the items on your shopping list.
- Check for rewards programs: Some supermarkets have rewards programs and it is worth comparing points program or price per unit along with the points verses strictly the coupon offerings to evaluate the best options or offerings.
It’s easy to overspend. Shopping malls and online stores are designed to encourage high spending and tempt you into impulse buying. “If I spend another $15, I’ll save $10 on shipping!” It can be a challenge to keep on budget when shopping. It’s important to shop with a purpose!
Whether you are shopping online or going to the mall to purchase something you need, check out several stores that carry the item and note the cost differences. Is there a sale at any of the stores? Is there a less expensive substitute?
Look for sales and off-season buys
In today’s retail environment sales happen all the time so be on the lookout. At certain times of year you can find bargains on various items. Clothing can go on sale at the beginning of a season but if you can wait until the season is ending, prices on the clearance racks will be even better.
Shop with a purpose
Avoid leisure trips to the mall. Shop only when you really need something.
Don’t be afraid to return things!
When you get home from the store, try on your new clothes again. Keep the tags on and be sure you still like the item as much as you did in the store. The same applies to home furnishings and accessories. Live with them for a few days and ensure they “fit” before removing tags.
“Shop” in your closet
Before going to the mall, check your closet and make sure you really need more. Perhaps a new accessory is all you need to freshen up your look. Make sure your closet is organized and ensure that shoes and clothes are clean and in good repair to avoid last-minute panic purchases before a big event.
Often we find ourselves going to a restaurant as a convenient alternative to preparing meals at home or for special occasions. Like most other things, the cost of restaurant meals is increasing and dining out can really eat into your budget. Remind yourself that dining out should be a treat, not an everyday occurrence.
Budget the dinner: Determine a budget for your meal out and before you go inside the restaurant check out the menu to make sure it is within your budget.
- Each course costs. A meal complete with appetizers, drinks and desserts can blow your budget. In many cases, these extras can double the cost of your meal! Make sure you understand what is included in the price of an entrée and what is extra. Consider skipping the extras. Instead of an expensive restaurant dessert, plan to have a fun treat when you get home.
- Watch your refills. Remember that not all drink refills are free. If you and your date both order a drink refill, you could add an extra $7 to your bill! If you dine out twice a month, that’s almost $170 a year!
- Discount dining. Some restaurants offer special deals at certain times or have limited-time promotions. Often, you can find coupons in the newspaper, in the mail or online—but be sure to read the fine print for expiry dates or exceptions before you go.
Being out on the town can be great fun. Of course, the cost of movies, concerts and special events can really add up. Try to balance expensive activities with some less expensive or no-cost alternatives. Saving money does not have to mean giving things up, but setting priorities will help you keep within your budget!
Budget for a special outing
While you don’t want to be thinking about money the entire time you are out having fun, it is not a bad idea to think about it before you go. Before heading out, set a budget for the day’s activities. Costs can quickly add up before you notice. Let’s say you’re planning a trip to a museum. It’s a good idea to find out the admission cost in advance. You can also check for coupons (be sure to read the fine print) or discounts.
Find low-cost alternatives
Next time you are thinking about a special outing, check out all of the options! Many communities host free or low-cost events, including cultural events, music festivals, sporting events, etc. Check local papers, community guides and online resources for different options. You may find many new, exciting and affordable things to do.
Take advantage of discount days
Many recreation and entertainment facilities have discount days or special time periods with lower costs. For example, some movie theatres offer free popcorn and pop on Tuesday nights, bringing down the cost of the outing significantly.
Family vacations are great. They’re an excellent opportunity to get away, share fun times and build memories. However, they can also be very expensive. The last thing you want is to come home from a vacation broke and stressed. Plan your vacation together as a family and check for some of the many good deals that are out there.
Plan it together
- Before making any destination decisions, determine your budget. With that budget in mind, have a family discussion.
- Work together to come up with an itinerary.
- Ask everyone going on the trip for the number one thing they would like to do.
- Write everything down and see which activities you can accommodate within your budget.
If everyone works together in planning the trip, everyone can feel that much better about the vacation when it comes. It will also help manage your family’s expectations about what is going to happen on the trip.
Budget saving options
- Vacation close to home. Some of the best family vacations can be the ones that cost the least and require a minimum amount of planning. Do some research on the web and at the library about tourist attractions and good vacation spots close to home.
- Try day trips. Taking a break and relaxing does not always mean you have to leave your community. Low-cost day trips are a great opportunity to explore your surroundings and keep more money in your wallet. Check out local community centres and websites for more information on things going on close to home.
- Travel in the off season. If you can get away in the off season, you can save hundreds of dollars! An off-season trip can be far less expensive and the destination will probably be less busy.
Whether you take the bus or drive a car, there are always ways to save money getting to and from the places you need to go.
The cost of using a car
It is helpful to take a few minutes to look at some of the expenses that go into transportation.
Let’s say you drive a $25,000 family sedan. Your annual costs might be as follows:
- car loan payments: $5,200
- gas: $1,700
- insurance: $1,200
- maintenance: $1,000
- total: $9,100
That’s about $760 a month! Even if your vehicle is paid off, owning the car will cost about $325 per month. And don’t forget, older vehicles require more maintenance.
The cost of taking the bus
If transit is available in your area, a year’s worth of monthly bus passes for an adult is about $1,201, or about $100 a month. For youth, a year costs about $841, or just over $70 a month.
A quick cost comparison
A family of four who drives a new car will pay about $9,100 a year.
A family of four who takes the bus will pay about $4,085 a year.
So bus travel can save $5,015 a year, or about $418 a month!
If you decided not to drive your car for four years, you could save about $20,000 and that doesn’t include the interest you would earn if you invested that money.
Some helpful tips
- Cut fuel costs. There are a number of ways to cut down on your gas expenses. Maintaining your tire pressure, turning off your air conditioning, driving a little slower and avoiding idling all improve your fuel efficiency. Maintaining your vehicle will also help to keep your fuel costs down. Next time you’re getting your vehicle serviced ask your technician about ways to reduce fuel costs on your specific vehicle.
- Sharing driving responsibilities for the trip to work or school will save you money and improve the life expectancy of your vehicle. Having fewer vehicles on the road also means less pollution!
- Buy monthly bus passes. Buying bus passes monthly instead of paying each time you ride can save you a lot of money. For example, if your child takes the bus to and from school every day and pays the full fare each trip, the cost would be roughly $720 for the school year. Ten monthly bus passes would cost only about $490 for the year. You save $230 each school year. Depending on how frequently you use the bus you might want to use a Peggo Card — the fares are cheaper than paying for individual rides.
- Join Peg City Car Co-Op. This car-sharing co-op is a membership-based service that provides flexible transportation solutions. Peg City membership costs between $600 and $1,200 per year and includes almost everything: fuel, insurance, maintenance and winter tires for those long Winnipeg winters. Members receive an access key and an online account that allows them to book a vehicle where they want it and when they want it.
It is important to know how to manage debt, whether small or large, as it is something many of us deal with. Common ways to manage what we owe include:
- Set goals
- Create a budget
- Change your mindset/habits
- Pay cash for everything if possible
- Set up a contingency fund for unexpected emergencies
- Resist temptation
- Work more, spend less
Sometimes if the debt becomes overwhelming or too stressful for you and your family, it can be a good idea to seek help from a credit counsellor. They can help you:
- Find a solution to your debt
- Stop harassing calls from collection agencies
- Reduce stress caused by debt
- Find an alternative to bankruptcy
- Learn to be in control of your spending
Manitobans have access to credit counseling information and services, including:
- Community Financial Counselling Services – http://www.debthelpmanitoba.com/
- Creditaid – creditaid.ca,
- Credit Counselling Society – https://www.nomoredebts.org/canada/manitoba/credit-counselling.html
- Government of Canada – https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/debt.html
When you reach a financial goal, such saving for tuition or paying off debt, don’t forget to reward yourself.
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How to stay within your budget when shopping at the mall or online