UNITED STATES—I was watching something on television recently and the word budget kept coming up and it hit me: man you’re spending a bit of money. It’s time for me to put the brakes on things and focus my attention on where my money is going. Back in 2017, I did something amazing in my opinion because it really helped me track my spending. I kept receipts for every single purchase I made. This included: miscellaneous items, entertainment, clothing, shoes, household products, food, gas and monthly bills.

That little experiment helped me learn a lot about myself. I was spending a lot of money on food, and when I say food I mean at the grocery store. Food is quite expensive at the supermarket, and so many people don’t realize that. I would make the claim I frequent the supermarket at least once a week, maybe every other week depending on my funds and what is already in the fridge. If there is one thing I’ve discovered, it’s just because something is on sale does NOT mean you have to purchase it.

A budget helps you see what you need versus what you don’t need, at the same time you begin to gauge if you’re indulging in wasteful spending. People laugh at me all the time because I don’t go to the grocery store without a list. I mean it’s a detailed list, where I note the name of the item, the brand and the exact price. Yes, I’m that guy, who looks at the circulars and compare prices. Some people hate going to multiple stores for household or grocery items.

They say you’re “Spending too much in gas to go to here, there and everywhere else.” My response, “I visit all the establishments in one trip, so I’m not going out 4 to 5 times a week to different stores.” When I’m out, I fill up the tank and hit all the retailers I need so I’m not wasting gas. Try to ensure you are visiting a location where you have all your favorite retailers if possible in close proximity. This helps from having to do excessive driving that is not beneficial to you in the long run. Next, put a price on what you are going to spend and do NOT go over it! That is key! The only place where I tend to sometimes go over on price is the local farmers’ market. I can sometimes guess from the circular what is on sale, but a lot of the times I’m entering the establishment blind. The price on fruits and veggies fluctuate all the time. What was on sale last week, might not be on sale this week, so be aware of that.

Even if that is the case, you know what fruits and veggies you need, so do NOT go buy items that you really don’t need because they’re on sale. Look, the word budget does not pertain only to food; it pertains to everything you buy, even your monthly expenses. Find a way to cut costs or get rid of things you don’t need. I’ve talked to so many people who do not have Cable, and I used to think if you can afford Cable get it.

However, just realizing how many times I pick up the remote and sift and sift and sift through channels, I’m paying for more than what I am getting. Is $200 really worth the package that I’m currently paying? The more I think about it no, and I’m seriously considering cutting the cord like so many people I know have already done. When it comes to household items, if a retailer has a great sale, stock up on those items, there is no expiration date for soap powder, soap, cleaning supplies, and such, buy as much as you can while on sale, because then you don’t have to worry about doing it throughout the year.

When it comes to clothing, buy only what you need and nothing else. Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it, now if the item is a steal, like a pair of Levi jeans for $6 and they have them in your size, c’mon its common sense you get the item. With fast food, try to rein it in. Eat before you leave the house if you’re planning to do errands, and if with that assertion, grab something lite, and don’t overspend on food just to waste the item.

Why is the word budget so important right now? Well, Christmas is fast approaching and for so many of us, we don’t budget and we are left spending so much that we find ourselves in massive debt come January. Remember, make a list, put a price for each person or the item you’re looking to spend and stick to it. Don’t worry, we will discuss more on crafting that Xmas list and finding the perfect gift without breaking the bank.

Written By Kelsey Thomas