A Frugal Mom’s Guide to Budgeting

Introducing a bit of frugality into your budgeting system can be a great way to save money and help you lower financial stress.

black smartphone on top of pink paper

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich

Take a look at our favorite practices and principles and see which ones will fit your lifestyle the most. 

Understand your income and expenses

Your first step is to write down all your sources of income and all of your regular monthly expenses. Be as precise as you possibly can. A spreadsheet works great for this purpose. You can either download one or make your own if you prefer. 

Label everything clearly and adjust as things change. 

Understanding exactly how much money is coming in and how much you need to spend on rent, utilities, and other regular expenses will set a great foundation for your budgeting. 

Set clear goals and limits

Once you understand how much money you have at your disposal, it’s time to set some financial goals for the family. 

What do you want to save up for? Do you want to go on a special vacation, or would you like to buy a new car? Are you looking to renovate your home?

Allocate a specific figure towards every financial goal from the money you have left after you’ve paid all of your monthly expenses. 

Have an emergency fund 

If you don’t have one already, this can also be a good time to start putting money into your emergency fund. It should be large enough to cover expenses for at least three months, ideally for six, for the entire family. 

This fund is not the same as your savings account. It should sit untouched, ideally accumulating interest if possible. Just make sure you can access it at any time.

Find a good way to track your budget

There are dozens of ways you can track your budget. You can use a budgeting app, create a spreadsheet, or write everything down on paper. 

Choose a tracking system that works for your family. Do multiple people need to access and edit it? Does it need to be accessible from different devices? 

If you don’t like the system, updating it will feel like a chore, and you’ll start avoiding it. If you can find a way to enjoy it, it will be more effective. 

Look for online deals

Before you buy anything, go online and see if the item is on discount somewhere. This applies to everything from groceries to toys and appliances. 

Sign up to the newsletters of brands you love and shop from regularly. They will alert you when a special offer is available. 

Look for home deals that can help you save on items you may not buy every day. Doing a bit of research before making a purchase can help you save a significant amount every month.

Limit subscriptions

Most of us are subscribed to numerous online services we don’t end up using on a regular basis. Go through yours and see if you can get rid of any. 

For example, maybe you don’t need to be paying for three or four streaming services every month. Decide what you want to watch in the upcoming weeks, and cancel all other subscriptions until you finish. 

Buy secondhand when you can

Purchasing some items secondhand can be another great way to stretch your monthly budget. You can find great clothing or furniture at a fraction of the retail price. 

This tactic works great for items that you won’t be using for a long time, like baby clothes or toys. You can also sell them or give them away after you’re done using them and reduce a lot of waste. 

You will need to be careful, though, and check the item carefully before you buy it. If you’re buying an appliance, make sure you can test it out before committing to the purchase. 

Plan meals and outings 

Devoting a bit of time to meal and event planning can save you a significant amount of money. 

Planning all of the family meals can reduce waste and help you stay within your grocery budget for the week. It will take a bit of practice to perfect, but the internet is full of useful tips and tricks from seasoned meal planners. 

Apply the same principles to fun family activities. Look for discounts and offers at the places you would like to visit. Take all snacks and refreshments with you if possible. The effort will be worth it when you realize how much you’ve saved. 

Wrapping up 

Don’t try to change the way you save and budget overnight. It can be too overwhelming, and you might end up quickly abandoning your new habits. Introduce them one at a time, and if you discover they aren’t working well in your family unit, swap them for something better.

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