That's what I usually say to my stressed out self at the end of the month. It's not that I don't try and budget myself, it's the life that gets in between the budgeting! The best way for us to deal with the unexpected is to cut the costs of the necessities as much as possible. And how is that done? Well, with a few tips and tricks!
Coupons! They are truly the best! And now you don't even need to buy the newspaper to get them on a weekly basis. There are many sites out there devoted towards collecting them all in one spot and you can print them in the convience of your own home. Best of all is when you use websites like Krazy Koupon Lady to compare prices and coupon match for the lowest possible price on tons of everyday objects.
Deals: Retail Me Not, Ibotta, Cartwheel, these are all great apps that can be installed into your phone and help you save on the go! If you unexpectedly find yourself needing something in a store you didn't expect to be at (but how could this ever happen?) Retail Me Not will search for coupons for that store. How useful is that?!
Meal planning: It doesn't have to be as extreme as spending a whole day to cook a month's worth of meals. It can just be making a list for your next trip to the grocery store, sticking to it and making predetermined meals for the week. Some people are really into freezing meals if they lead a busy life, but setting aside a bagged lunch the night before can really save a considerable as those days turn into years.
Surveys: There are a few websites out there, such as Valued Opinions, that allow you to do surveys where they pay you in gift cards after reaching a certain amount of earned money or credit. This is probably one of the most enjoyable things I've tried to date. There are times I'll be able to get a few done while sitting down for a cup of tea. I've been able to gift cards for both Amazon and iTunes, which make for really nice gifts or to put towards needed items!
Happy Hour! Due to the fact that me and my friends are working retail or food service at this point in our lives, we usually work the hours that most people consider time for fun. This leaves us lots of free time in the morning, which really isn't the most appropriate drinking time. Yet, if we are looking to go out, we'll scout out happy hour and find ourselves entertained with cheap drinks and food. Be sure to check your favorite bar if you are looking to go out what they do offer during happy hour.
Coupon books: These books are usually released on a yearly basis and have coupons for nearby businesses of all sorts. They vary in price between 20 to 30 dollars, but man are they well worth it. In our household, we barely have gotten through half of the book, but we estimate we have saved over $100 on things we normally would have had to spend money on.
Tracking your Spending: Last but not least, the best way to know what's going out is to know exactly where all the money is going. I've made it a habit to record all my income and expenses so I have a really good picture of how the month is going and see how it might turn out. I try to align the dates in my notebook so as to make sure on a daily basis I'm not spending more than I earn, but also, on a monthly basis, checking to make sure recurring bills are in line.
Any more tips to add?! Also, all apps and websites are ones I have found useful these past couple months.