Do you need a budget overhaul?

When the bills pile up and the phone is ignored, you might be in need of a budget overhaul. While congress dukes it out, you can balance your own budget without too much pain.

There are plenty of small ways you can save that are relatively painless. In no time your debts will be smaller and you will start to actually save money!

Do you go to the mall often? Do you just run into the nearest “super center” for a few items, but come out with a full cart? You may not be a true shopaholic, but you might admit that a little restraint might be in order.


  • Grocery stores

    . A big part of your budget goes to groceries even if you are single, more if you have a family. Little ways that you can trim the fat are pretty simple.
    • Go with a list. If you go to the store without a list, you will end up buying on a whim, only to get home and realize you have no staples and you’ve forgotten many basic items.
    • Get the Sunday paper and check coupons and flyers. You don’t have to be into extreme couponing to benefit from a few minutes of browsing. Start making your list based on the specials in the store flyers. Plan meals around them. Then go through the coupons and see if anything matches items on your list.
    • Eat something before you go to the store. You will be less likely to make impulse purchases. When you are hungry, everything looks delicious and you end up throwing things in your cart you don’t need.
    • Plan on putting together more meals at home and eat out less often. If you cook more at home you will be more likely to eat healthier, and leftovers become tomorrow’s lunch. You will save on your wallet and on your waistband.
  • Department Stores.

    They can eat up your paycheck before you get to aisle five.
    • Before hitting the mall or the super center, check out some of the thrift stores in your area. You will be amazed at the cool stuff you can get for next to nothing. Be careful. Limit yourself to what you really need.
    • It might mean taking time to do some digging, but when you are clothes shopping, don’t assume that there is only junk in the thrift shops. Especially with well-known non-profit organizations, wealthy people will take last year’s wardrobe and drop it off. Name brand clothes that are barely worn, and sometimes with tags still attached will show up on thrift store racks for three or four dollars.
  • Insurance

    . Auto and home insurance (or renter’s) can eat up a budget. If you haven’t had an accident or ticket in three years, you should qualify for good rates. If you haven’t checked your policy in a while, it might be a good idea to shop around.
    • Have your current policy in front of you so you can compare similar coverage, but don’t be afraid to try higher liability limits. Even though you might pay a few dollars more a month, you will be grateful to not have to come out of pocket for a large loss that was more than your limits.
    • Combine auto and home (or renter’s) with the same company. Most major insurers will provide deep discounts when policies are bundled. If you are a renter and you do not have renter’s insurance, you should look into it. The cost is minimal and your discount on your auto will make up the difference. It will be like getting two policies for the price of one.

Avoid overwhelming yourself with too many changes at once. It makes it harder to stick to and you might quit before your good changes become habit. Take one or two things and stick to them until they are comfortable. Then add another good habit. Before you know it, you will be ruling your budget instead of your budget ruling you!