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My adventure as I jump into life all in!!

Budget Deficit

on February 17, 2014

This post is part of a budgeting series. See All the steps below:

Budgets, Where To Start?
The Other Half of the Budget

The Nitty Gritty

Cutting Your Grocery Bill
Keep Those Dollars In Your Pocket
I Need Extra Income
Irregular Incomes

By now, you should have gone through steps 1-3, creating your budget. If you have a budget deficit (your expense total was larger than your income total), you will need to find ways to reign in spending or increase your income to get your budget to work. For the next few weeks we will go over ways to reign in spending.

You will need to go over your expenses and decide what expenses can be lowered. Some expenses are unable to be lowered, such as your rent or mortgage payment. But some expenses can be looked into and you can find ways to lower them. Which of your expenses is out of control? Look for ways to lower them. Here are a few examples:

  • Do you spend a lot at coffee shops? Try to cut back or cut it out of your budget
  • Is your vehicle’s gas budget high? Try to do multiple things in one trip to a certain area or look into carpooling to work.
  • Do you spend a lot of money on clothing? Try to work with the outfits you already own and cut this out of your budget for the month.

The point is, determine which of your budgets are too high and try to brainstorm ways to lower that expense. Your goal should be to make all of your expenses less than or equal to your income. Once you can get them to be less than your income, you can focus on saving. If you feel like you have cut everything unecessary out of your budget and you still can’t pay all your bills, we’ll talk about ways to generate some extra income in a few weeks.

Be sure to come back next week for some specific tips on cutting certain expenses, beginning with groceries. And feel free to comment below. What are some ways that you have found to cut some of your expenses? Have you been sticking to your budget or do you need to re-determine what you truly spend on your categories?

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83 responses to “Budget Deficit

  1. My huge way to cut expenses is packing my own lunch for work as opposed to buying it every day. I am blogging my debt repayment journey over at http://www.quarterlifecents.com if you are interested in budgeting!

    • becbier says:

      Eating out can definitely blow a budget. I always bring my lunch to work and keep eating out to a minimum. Hubby and I were surprised the first time we wrote out a budget how much money we actually spent eating out, because we didn’t think it was that much. Now that it’s written down, we are more aware and able to be more in control of our money. It is a great feeling!

  2. I’m sitting here trying to figure out what I should cut out of my monthly spending habits to save money, and it would most definitely be that impulse online shopping in the middle of the night…no matter how inexpensive the discount or sale.

    Also, I need to cut out buying a lot of produce at one time. I’m the only one who eats it, and usually, I am constantly tossing away cauliflower, lettuce, spinach and kale that goes bad. I need to remind myself that unless I am going to eat it right away (like in 1-2 days)…don’t even bother buying it. I hate thinking of how much I waste on tossing those four items away.

    • becbier says:

      I am awful about buying produce and eating it all before it goes bad too!!! I buy lettuce, telling myself that we’ll eat it, and next thing you know it’s a week later and I’m throwing it away. I’ve learned to just realize we’re not going to eat it or to put it someplace more visible than the produce drawer so that I see it and maybe remember to eat it before it expires.

  3. Budgets are very important to avoid debt. I try not to waste money if possible and I always buy on sale and coupon!

  4. Sasha says:

    I have been using coupons for as long as I can remember- my mom instilled that in me and we used to sit together when I was a kid and clip coupons. I am so glad my kids already understand how important it is to save money whenever possible.

    • becbier says:

      My mom instilled in me the dangers of credit cards (sadly, from her own personal experience) so I grew up being wary of credit card debt. It’s amazing the simple things we can learn from our parents that instill in us ways to save money.

  5. We are in the process of cutting our monthly expenses, starting with our car insurance. It’s amazing how much you can save by just calling around.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Erica says:

    We have been trying to cut things out little by little. Hopefully we can get my husband’s fishing boat repaired and then he can fish commercially and our budget will be back on track. Until then it has been a struggle to keep the lights on!

    Erica
    We Three Crabs

    • becbier says:

      It’s times when the money is tight when the budget is vital to making it work. Praying the boat gets fixed quickly so you don’t have to have money woes!

  7. Jennifer S. says:

    One way we save money is for me to make my husband’s lunches for work. Plus he had a favourite treat at the coffee shop. I researched a recipe for it. Now I make it and he keeps some in the car so he’s not tempted to buy it while he’s out.

    • becbier says:

      That is a great idea! My excuse so far for not trying that is that my coffee shop treat is a 400 calorie glazed donut! I tell myself I shouldn’t make it at home because I don’t need the calories….but I still end up buying it every once in a while because it’s so good! Still, I need to come up with some other treats for those morning coffee shop urges so I can stick to the budget better. Thanks for the idea!

  8. Lisa says:

    When I really want to stick with a budget, I write down every single dollar that I spend money on then review it at the end of the week. It is very eye opening when you see even just the small purchases adding up!

    • becbier says:

      Isn’t it just amazing how much difference it makes when it is written down? Definitely helps you realize where your spending issues are.

  9. Coffee is a major expense for some people. Same with eating out. When I was in the financial world, I’d have clients with $50,000+ in credit card debt because they couldn’t stop eating out. UGH

    • becbier says:

      What we think are small purchases really rack up before we even realize it. That is why a budget is key! And once you’ve set an amount for your restaurant category, the goal is to stick to it, which can get difficult as well. It’s so easy for people to rack up loads of debt with small purchases over a long period.

  10. Meg C says:

    We are pretty strict about our food budget, both for groceries and eating out. I’m a couponer and price-matcher, which really helps us keep a low food bill. Eating a lot of meals from scratch and meatless makes a difference too!

    We are anticipating a job change and lower income this year, so we definitely need to crack down on some of our other budget categories though. I look forward to reading this whole series!

    • becbier says:

      I am very strict about ours as well. I feel like I have it as low as it can possibly go. My husband’s income varies each month due to commission for one job and differing hours from his part time job, so sometimes I have to reign the grocery spending in even tighter. That’s why I practically obsess over our budget, lol. Thanks for joining the series!

  11. MomMaven says:

    We always have a tough time with a budget. My husband is self-employed and is paid on a per project basis when the project is completed…some weeks he makes $100 and some $1000 there is no consistency or average. I am currently unemployed and my only income is the very little I make on my blog and $60 a month for 1 piano lesson I teach. Times are tough.

    • becbier says:

      Times are definitely tough right now. We’ll focus on this later in the series, but with an irregular income, the best way to budget is to budget as if you were getting paid the lowest you have gotten paid in the last year or six months or so. But also, have a plan if you make more than that lowest amount. Hopefully that helps, but stick with it and hopefully there will be a rhythm to it.

  12. We started a budget at the beginning of this year and are trying to stick to it 🙂

    • becbier says:

      That is an awesome New Year’s resolution. Hopefully you will be in control of your money and be able to save up for the future 🙂

  13. Angie Astry says:

    Great post! I need to budget better, I’m going to follow your site! Some ways we have cut expenses is just by really thinking is this a have or a want! That helps a ton! I don’t have a “budget” per say but have been doing much better about not overspending. I need to set a budget though!

    • becbier says:

      Thanks for following! The difference between a have and a want is a great way to set up the budget. Keep the wants to a minimum helps accomplish your financial goals.

  14. Alice Barton says:

    It’s incredible how much money we spend without “realizing”! I cut down slightly in coffee and eating out and it really made a huge difference in my monthly budged! I’m currently trying to keep my finances more under control, but doing so much online shopping makes it complicated! 🙂

    • becbier says:

      It is insane how much money used to just flow out of our account towards restaurants before we started budgeting. Keeping track is so important.

  15. Important topic! It is very important to budget your money and only spend what you can afford. You are providing a valuable service by showing step by step how to accomplish this.

    • becbier says:

      It seems so simple for some to write up a budget, but some never even think of it. I am hoping to be able to help out those who never thought of it and find themselves struggling financially.

  16. Stacie says:

    I have been budgeting since I had my daughter at a young age. At the beginning of every month, I budget all of the expenses right down to the dollar. It’s been working for years!

    • becbier says:

      Budgeting is vital, especially when you are starting out young and with possibly not much income. Tell your dollars where to go helps you get on top of things.

  17. Sheena says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog. My blog is a similar focus and it was nice to see what someone else is writing. I am a total nerd and I love budgeting! We recently cut out our home security system. We have also eliminated car payments in the last year. It is so refreshing to be on our last debt!

    • becbier says:

      We paid our last car payment about a year and a half ago. One of our cars is getting old, so hopefully we can save up enough to replace it before it dies, but we are on our last debt of Hubby’s student loans. So looking forward to having them paid off!

  18. Zan Turner says:

    Sometimes it is difficult to find things to cut out from our budget so that we can free up some space….But if we look hard, we can find them.. I can definitely testify of that. Thanks!

    • becbier says:

      There is always something, even if it is little to be cut from the budget. If there is absolutely no wiggle room, it’s time to stretch your income by mowing lawns or something

  19. Jim Wang says:

    Budgeting is a must, it’s just hard to get someone to start that as a habit! It’s like counting calories, we all know it’s good for us and that we need to limit, it’s just hard to get the ball rolling. 🙂

    • becbier says:

      That was difficult for us as well, but now I use an app that maintains the budget levels for each month. I just have to make small adjustments if our expenses will be different for the next month.

  20. Brittany says:

    I think we have done a pretty good job of cutting out extras. I know we could cut out a little more, but I don’t think spending the lowest amount possible is a good long-term move.

    • becbier says:

      Right! Finding a comfortable level for your expenses is the goal, but when the income doesn’t match up, for the short-term spending the lowest might be the only option. As long as it doesn’t become the norm

  21. Jessica says:

    We’re finally out of debt! Hopefully I can convince the hubs to cut up the credit cards soon. I cut mine up years ago. He wants them for “emergencies”. When he grew up, his family went through times where there wasn’t enough food. Hopefully by having that emergency fund well padded he won’t feel the need to have the cards.

    • becbier says:

      We have no credit cards other than a card to a clothing store that I bought one time to earn a discount. I only used it that one time a few years ago, but have yet to cut it up. I keep telling myself the next time I shop at that store, I will put it on the card and then walk over to customer service and pay the balance, just to keep up my credit score, but I never do that…..I suppose I should just cut it up, but I just can’t make myself, lol.

  22. sheilaroland05 says:

    Sometimes you can call your cable company to get your bill lowered, and I have also heard of calling your credit card company to get a lower interest rate. I have never tried either of thees options (my husband works for a cable company that offers a free platinum cable/internet package to their employees, and we don’t use credit cards!) but I have heard of people who claim to have successfully done it.

    • becbier says:

      I have also heard of those but haven’t needed to call our cable company (yet) and also have no credit cards. Although, if our budget gets too tight, I’ve contemplated shutting of the cable and just using Netflix and local TV.

      • sheilaroland05 says:

        Don’t you just love Netflix! Though it can be annoying when your kids favorite show gets removed suddenly! Like when they took Blues Clues away…

  23. Natalie says:

    This is great advice. I have found that I can substitute this for that, still enjoying things like coffee. I can buy a bag of my favorite coffee for under $6, and it will last about 3 weeks. If I bought a cup at Starbucks it would be $4 which is about 67% of what I need to buy a whole bag of my favorite 3 week supply. Thrift shopping is fun and a good way to save and cut, while still living a good life.

    • becbier says:

      Starbucks is one of my weaknesses!! Our company recently got a Keurig machine in the break rooms, so I thought I’d try out the Chai tea that the company stocked in the breakroom. (They have coffee as well, but I’m not a coffee drinker and Starbucks has delicious Chai tea) It was horrendous! I’m going to have to find a Keurig brand and bring my own in to save myself from the Starbucks temptations 😦

  24. This is a great topic! Budgeting is huge for many people. I would also like to see your suggestions for adding income as well as reducing expenses.

    • becbier says:

      Thanks! After we get through cutting certain expenses if possible, there will be a few posts about adding income for the short-term. Stay tuned 🙂

  25. We buy and cook in bulk, and look for bargains all year long for bdays and Christmas, etc.. One of our problems is the price of gas – we live in a rural-ish area and there are five drivers in our house, all with different schedules. Of course we schedule such things as marketing, lessons, etc,, together But everyone’s varied work and school schedules do complicate things!

    • becbier says:

      Our gas budget is insane right now. I also live in a rural area and travel to the nearest metropolitan area (about 35 miles each way) to work. My husband recently got transferred at his job to an office about 45 miles the opposite direction I drive. But since we have a budget written down, it is easier to keep track of. That doesn’t mean I like that huge number on the budget though 😦

  26. Clarinda says:

    We had to cut alot of expenses when hubby couldn’t work due to his tumor. Now with my business, I can be a little bit more freeing with my money.

    • becbier says:

      Hopefully you had some money in an emergency fund when things got tight, but it is great that you were able to start your own business. Way to go!

  27. Myesha says:

    Great post, it’s so important to take an honest look at where your money is going. I recently left corporate america and we knew that I could do it by budgeting.

    • becbier says:

      Exactly! You will never know what you are capable of with your money if you don’t write it down and see where it’s at. 🙂

  28. Great advices, luckily for me I have always been good with money so never got myself in problems! 🙂

  29. ginamangum says:

    I save money by couponing and shopping sales, shopping for clothing at thrift stores and clearance racks, not leaving my house if I don’t have to, shopping with a purpose and not randomly browsing, grouping my errands to save on fuel, and usually when we eat out we all order water instead of tea or a soft drink. With four people that usually equals the price of one of our meals.

  30. I have an expense tracker on my ipad (to hep budget) and I also have a finance folder. It keeps me organized and on time with my bills.

  31. Great tips. My husband and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class about a year ago and it really motivated us to reduce our spending and watch things like eating out, going to the coffee shop, etc. Thanks for sharing.

    • becbier says:

      My husband and I heard of Dave Ramsey and financial peace a few years back, but officially took the financial peace class last spring. We are so focused on getting rid of his student loans so we can be debt free! It is awesome!

  32. andrea k says:

    I will definitely be going back through your previous posts. Thank you! I love this!!!

    • becbier says:

      Well I don’t have a LOT of previous posts yet, but I’m hoping to stick with it this year and have a lot of posts in the future 🙂

  33. It’s amazing how much our household was able to save – just by cutting out visits to cafes and coffee shops, and being organised enough to take our own food out with us, or lunch to work. Great post with some very relevant tips.

  34. I recently needed to cut expenses significantly. I renegotiated my cell phone contract, saving $40/mo. I cut my cable, keeping only Internet access, saving $80/mo. And I got rid of my car, since I am centrally located in a small city with a good public transportation system. I no longer have car insurance, gas, or repair expenses. I have bus fares, but it’s still a big savings.

  35. I find I have to keep close tabs on those “miscellaneous” expenses or they really add up: the fancy coffee drink, a quick drive through meal for my son, ordering a movie on pay per view. When I find things getting out of hand I start religiously keeping a spending log. That always helps me reign things in.

    • becbier says:

      Those little random purchases can really add up, but cutting out some or all of the little random purchases can really add up your savings

  36. Natasha says:

    Those are definitely the first steps to living within your means! Identify income in. Identify income out and see where things match up. For me, having a little notebook so I could log every expense for a few months was invaluable in knowing where my money went. If I waited until the end of the day, I’d forget the bus fare or the latte I bought while waiting for the bus. Or I’d round down the grocery total. But quickly jotting things down right there and then helped keep me real. And it was AMAZING to discover how the little things just added up. Once I knew what they were, I could decide what to do with them. Knowledge truly is power!

    • becbier says:

      Yup, once you’ve written it down, you have a much better picture of where your money is going and you can figure out how to fix any money issues.

  37. Diana Marie says:

    I am starting to organize and train myself properly to budget. My boyfriend is constantly on me about this, because of course, he is great at it! I definitely booked marked your website so I can learn some helpful tips.

    • becbier says:

      It is hard to get in the habit of budgeting. Dave Ramsey recommends sitting down for a budget meeting with your spouse or someone who can help hold you accountable for your budget each month. I have to admit, I rarely sit down the hubby to go over the budget each month, time just slips away.

  38. I”ve always been frugal so try to budget in whatever I can. What I find most frustrating is food shopping however. There are tons of coupons around, but every time I need to run out I can never find the right coupons. Makes me feel like I’m just wasting money.

    • becbier says:

      That is an issue for me as well! I know some couponers rely on a system of how coupons rotate, but I don’t have it figured out. Certain things are supposed to go on sale every few months or something, and some people have it down to a science. My issue with coupons is that they are usually for products I don’t normally buy. The few times I use them, it’s only for a small fraction of the items in my cart 😦

  39. We just did a “February Freeze” where we only bought ESSENTIALS. It was rough at first, but it helped us to see what we really could live without!

    • becbier says:

      I recently read about a couple that did that as well (You can visit her blog here: http://momsavesmoney.net/category/no-spend-challenge). She is a couponer and stocks up often, so they agreed on a no spend challenge to use only foods they already had besides items that expire, such as milk and produce. They agreed not to eat out, buy alcohol, clothing, toys, toiletries, household items, or spend on entertainment, hobbies and online shopping. It sounds like quite an adventure! I may try something like that, but I’m not ready to give up my ‘little luxury’ of eating out once in a while quite yet. It definitely sounds like a great way to save extra for goals though. Now that February is nearly over, how did your February freeze turn out? Did you stick to it?

  40. Great article. We follow the principles outlined by Financial Peace and have loved it. We both work two jobs and with no kids, we are able to save and pay things off right now. Still, I find myself wanting to shop continuously at TJMaxx! I must stay away in order to keep our budget.

    • becbier says:

      We don’t have kids either so we have been able to put a lot towards paying off our debt. I absolutely love Financial Peace! It really helped us get in charge of our money. There always seems to be an extra want in our minds as well. Ours is eating out. Sometimes after a long day at work, I don’t want to spend the rest of the evening in the kitchen. But, as long as we only eat out as much as we have planned to in the budget, we are still able to work on our debt.

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