You are very close to budget perfection. You plan $400/month for groceries, you spend $398.26. Outstanding. Everything is going according to plan. Well, except for that one little problem category.
Is it eating at restaurants?
Personal care products?
*Gasp* Miscellaneous purchases??
First off, if you’re over just a couple of bucks each month, just take a chill pill… or a chill margarita… or a chill margarita with some chips and salsa. But if you are consistently overspending in one area by significant, budget-breaking numbers, then perhaps it’s time to revisit the balanced budget scales.
Before you cry yourself to sleep each night over how much you miss take-out (and margaritas), ask yourself this question: would it be easier to cut back somewhere else? Yes? Problem solved. Cut back somewhere else. No? Hopefully there’s room in the budget for just a couple of tissues.
Do not despair entirely, or at all, this issue is completely fixable. There are even a few tricks you can try to help you to curb your spending cravings and trim that problem category down once and for all.
Isolate the Problem
You want to make that bad/over spending habit feel weird and uncomfortable. You want it to feel self-conscious. Every time it shows it’s face, you give it one cocked eyebrow and say, “really, you again?”
There are several ways you can do this. Force yourself to write every single one of these purchases down the moment you make them. Or create a separate account solely for this category of spending (like an allowance account). If you make it the habit feel weird, you will increase your consciousness of it and ipso facto your ability to put it in its place.
If You Can’t Control Yourself…
Long before the days of the internet, money was a tangible resource. If you didn’t have it in your hand, you couldn’t spend it. This principle of yore can come in quite handy when trying to limit one’s spending.
If you can’t seem to kick a bad/over spending habit, try switching to a cash-only policy. Withdraw the amount budgeted for your problem category in cash at the beginning of the month and simply do not allow yourself to spend any more than that.
Sure, you could theoretically withdraw more, but you won’t. Because you’re freaking fantastic.