I have always used a budget. When I was in college I only got paid once a month and if I didn’t use a budget I would run out of money. I did a few times and it wasn’t fun. I’ve moved several times to different areas of the country. I’ve gotten married and had kids and I’ve used a budget the entire time. I just use an excel spreadsheet and I have them saved all the way back to 2001! I’ve found the ONE thing that always breaks the budget though.
I went back through them and noticed that it was usually one that did us in. It got worse after we had kids. It’s EATING OUT! There are 5 of us in my family. Eating out can be pretty expensive, even at a fast food place. Sports practices would run late and I wouldn’t have any fast meals to make at home so it was just easier to run out and get something. We would have a baseball tournament out of town and we would end up eating two meals out in one day and that could easily be over $100.
I decided to get better at my meal planning and I noticed that we were staying on budget. It took a little practice to start thinking ahead. I would make sure I had some emergency meals. That means I always have a fast backup meal I can throw in the crock pot that morning if our schedule got changed. This is a family favorite crock pot meal and so easy to do! I always have spaghetti and pasta sauce in the pantry. If I knew I had something going on, I would make a meal the day before and my husband could throw it in the oven.
My friend Jenny created an ebook to help people that needed some help or extra push (like me) with meal planning. You can buy that book here. She has her own blog that has a lot of great family meals too that you should check out. There are also tons of slow cooker cookbooks out there. Here’s one of my favorite.
Take a look at your budget. I bet that may be one of the things that’s busting it.