Budgets are fun! Budgets are playful! Budgeting can be a challenge, but not necessarily a chore.
Here is a challenge for you. Write down everything that you spend money on for 1 week. Find a notebook hanging around the house somewhere, preferably one with ledger lines. Just enter every receipt for a week. A pain, yes. But I must say I found it to be a very revealing one. I lumped my groceries all together for this chore. But there were also coffee, lattes, gas, a trip to the drug store, and a couple of nights of take-out.
I found that take-out (though I loooove it!) put a big dent in my budget at between $20-30 each. (I live in the Bay Area--food is expensive) I was spending between $80-$120 a month on pizza, burritos and Chinese take-out.
The next day, I went to the local used book store and bought a couple of exotic cookbooks. I decided to try cuisine that I liked but had never tried cooking. So I choose a middle-eastern cookbook and a rustic Italian cookbook. Each book cost me a dollar.
I tend to cook pasta and love it, but am always short on sauces after the traditional marinara sauce. I found a wonderful olive oil, garlic and basil sauce. I harvested squash from the garden and tossed it with eggplant in olive oil.
I found that I loved garbanzo bean (chick peas) in all kinds of permutations. I learned how to make the rice stuffing in cold dolmas and stuff artichokes with it. (Pretty yummy by the way.) I have had a blast exploring some new cuisine. And best of all, the tab for my take-out bill dropped in half this last month.
So, I took that extra and applied half to a credit card and half to savings.
Eat hearty! Eat healthy! And save!