Being a one income family puts us into somewhat of a minority category. Those who have two full-time incomes might ask "How do you do it?"
Here are a few things we do to keep our spending at bay:
1) Keep up on our budget. Every 6 months or so I have to mentally prepare myself for the next period of life. So we (I) write down all our monthly expenses such as mortgage, this bill, that bill, food, household needs, etc. This gives me a good view of what we have and keeps me from spending too much.
2) Any shopping is done with cash. After each paycheck we make a run to the ATM to pull out our budgeted spending money and put it into envelopes. This includes food, toiletries, gifts for family, and other household purchases. If there is no cash left none is spent. This took me a little while to get used to. You have to remember to grab the cash you need before you head out to the store. For those grocery trips it keeps you from grabbing the expensive stuff and other extras like unneeded snacks and beverages. (Meal planning and making a shopping list is vital to saving on your grocery bill. This topic deserves its own post.)
3) Simplify eating habits. This includes not going out to eat, cooking with seasonal foods, and doing as much homemade bread baking as possible. Discover the bread maker. Find one at your local thrift store. (I have yet to calculate the amount I'm saving on making my own bread.) This can be a huge sacrifice for some people, but if you want to save good money strap on your cooking boot straps and get a low cost cook book at your local thrift store. You can do it.
4) Eat at the in-laws. This is my humorous tip. I know it is not for everyone, but it is something we do because my in laws are so generous. At least once a week, sometimes twice, we make our way over to Grandpa and Grandma's for supper. This is where my hubby gets his fill on steak and roast beef, which is meat we don't usually splurge on at the store. Plus I am the self proclaimed casserole queen who would rather dirty one dish than two or three.
5) Always be on the search for free fun in your community. Go to your town's website and find out what free things are offered. Connect with mom groups, schedule play groups at your house, etc. Get creative and work your right brain for a bit. Make a list so you have something to go to when you need some free fun.
6) Spend time at home. This sounds so silly, but its so true. If you go out somewhere you are more than likely to spend money unless you have a specific plan in which money is not involved. (Remember, gas is money too, so wherever you go you are spending money on gas.)
7) Need/want a big item? Go through your closet and find a pile of stuff to sell on craigslist. It is way easier than you would think. While going through your things keep on your mind "Do I want this item more than the one I want to buy?" to help you decide what should go and what should stay. Plus, your clutter gets cleared at the same time! It's always good to have a nice incentive for those mundane tasks.
8) Get out your mortgage now and then and do some figures. Look at your principle balance and remind yourself of your debt and make it a priority to get that paid off before you live the "high life" buying whatever you want.
9) Save your pennies. Since you're using cash to spend find a place to put it when you get home. when your jar/container/piggy bank is full do some good old fashioned coin rolling! It's a fund activity the whole family can get into.
10) Be thankful for what you have. If you are a person who loves to shop and you want to stop being the overspending consumer get yourself a grateful journal. Make one last special shopping trip to get a pretty journal because if you dedicate yourself to not spending you're going to need a way to vent. Whenever you get that itch to go out and spend write in this journal. Spend time thinking about what you have, material or otherwise and remind yourself that life does not consist of stuff. Write about family, memories, fond thoughts of your favorite places in nature.