Financial Friday #GreatBritishBudget - Avoiding Temptation (sticking to a budget)

February 21, 2014

Last Friday I showed you how to budget and today I'm going to tell you the tricks I use to stick to one!

Avoid the temptation 

Try not to put yourself in a situation where you will have to face temptation and overcome it. I am sure a lot of you out there are stronger willed and more controlled than I am... but just in case you're not then here are some ways I try to stay on track:

Un-subscribe from mailing lists

Although I hate to miss out on a great offer or fabulous discount... it is sometimes best not to know. I did this before and have just done it again a couple of weeks ago - I have un-subscribed from all the shops and online boutiques that try to tempt with their beautiful wares.

I do miss the constant 'ping' of a new email, I'm ashamed to admit that it did make me popular and special! However, it is better not to have the temptation of the special offers, free postage and free gifts.

Don't turn right

The title of this tip is very specific to me - when I enter my local Asda the food is located straight ahead and on the left. The clothes, toys and accessories are located to the right. If I am going in to Asda to buy some food then I have no reason to turn right... 

Take this tip and apply it to your own situation. If there is a certain place that you know is only full of temptation and doesn't have anything you NEED then avoid it. Don't go into town to browse the shops if you have no money, don't go on line shopping, don't go into the make up section of the shop... in a manner of speaking, don't turn right.

Don't read magazines and blogs

Now this is an interesting thing for a blogger to say but it's true! If you are the kind of person (just like me) that sees something pretty, being talked about in a very positive way by someone (a blogger, a magazine article, a YouTuber, etc) then avoid that temptation as well. 

I once knew someone who would ALWAYS, without fail, buy what was listed in Grazia's 'what's hot' section. She would travel to London to source the items as a lot of them would not be available in our local shops. Would she have wanted those bags and clothes if she had never seen them? I don't think so.

I'm the same - I see a blogger using something and describing it in such a positive way that I think, 'my life is not complete without that X, I must buy it now'. It's so sad, but it is very true!

Meal Planning

This has been a revelation for me since having my daughter. I never really saw the point of meal planning but when things were really tight then I would have to make everything go as far as possible. Meal planning is great as it reduces wastage and impulse takeaways because you 'have nothing to eat'. 

I could do a whole piece on meal planning... but I have no plans to! It would be quite boring but there are lots of good things to be said about meal planning. You make sure you have the right ingredients ready (and defrosted) the night before and then you won't be stuck with what to have for tea that night. 

At one point I did my meal plans on a monthly basis but now I do them weekly. To save money we have a roast on a Sunday then use the left overs for the next two evening meals. This means a £4 (or less if on offer) chicken feeds the three of us for three main meals and I only have 4 other meals to plan.

Cash Budget

This is my fail safe. If I am in real need of a kick up the financial bum then I go back to my tried and tested method of cash budgeting. This is not for the faint hearted and it is not easy!

How I cash budget:

I do the long version budget that I showed you in my last post then I see how much is left over. Say £400 of 'disposable' income is left over after all main bills and savings have gone out. That gives me £400 for the month, I must not go over that and it is so easy to do so when using a credit card. Using a cash budget makes it is very easy to see that you are running out of money - when you open your purse and there is only £30 in there but a lot of the week left you really can appreciate how much you cannot afford that take away/make up item/starbucks coffee/etc.  

I have used three different methods over the years, you can pick one that suits you best:

Method one:

Assuming there are four weeks in the month, I would allow myself £100 a week and get that out of a cash machine at the start of each week. 
Method two: 

Do a 'big shop' at the start of the month buying lots of store cupboard items, cleaning products, meats, etc. That may come to, say £150 which leaves me £250 which works out as about £60 a week for 'top up' items like fresh fruit and veg, milk, etc. 

Method Three:

I don't think this one works as well but you would get £400 out at the start of the month and slowly add it to your purse as you go.

Words of encouragement:

Cash budgeting may not be fun but it really is effective. We lived on a VERY tight budget for over a year. I would buy a 'big' shop for £100 at the start of the month and then we had £20 a week to buy top up items and anything else we wanted. That is not a lot of money at all so we had no takeaways, no lunches out (hubby made his lunches to take into work), no food wastage, no visits any where, no day trips, no nothing! 

It was a tough time and it was a nightmare if anything round the house broke or needed fixing, we simply didn't have the money to sort it. It was so tough when Maddie needed new clothes or shoes, a pair of shoes would wipe out our food budget for over a week. Luckily she has very loving and generous (maternal) grandparents who saw our struggles, sacrifices and how sensible we were trying to be and they stepped in to help without us asking. They would offer to take her to buy new shoes, new cardigans would appear in her wardrobe without any ceremony or discussion. You really do need loving and supportive people around you at difficult times.

Luckily we stuck to our budgets, we pulled through and better times came our way. No matter how hard it was I was always aware of how much worse it could be. We had a roof over our heads and Maddie always had food in her tummy (us parents sometimes went without) and lots of love around us. (oh gosh, I'm welling up!)

I'm happy to say that things are much better for us now. For us, budgeting now is more about making sure we don't spend too much and we save something for a rainy day - rather than having to count every penny as we didn't know if we would make ends meet that month.

Anyway, the moral of the story is: If we can live on that tight cash budget for the best part of a year then you too can set yourself a budget and stick to it!

Hopefully you have learnt a few tips and tricks here, let me know any of yours down below!

Thanks for reading,
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  1. Great advice Rachel :-) I cash budget at the moment, I find it so much easier! Also, I really try not to buy stuff online as I can get carried away lol. Please do the meal planning, I meal plan at the moment but it would be nice to get some extra tips off you. Great post :-) xx

    1. Thank you, glad you like it... and I certainly will do a meal planning post soon then :-) xx

  2. You are so right about not reading magazines and blogs, they always leave me wanting more stuff :)

    1. Glad I'm not the only weak willed one ;-) hee hee xx

  3. This a really helpful post. I would love to see your meal planning too x

    1. thank you :-) I will get started on that meal planning post soon then :-) xx


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