I have never seen myself as having a spending problem because we've never been in debt, other than our home loan.
I do know I have a problem sticking to budget, but we put extra payments onto our loan and they cover any over-spending.
Hang on. Alarm bells! Just because we aren't in debt, and just because we have the money, doesn't make it okay to overbuy! That money would be a whole lot better off reducing our mortgage debt.
I have a fairly simple budget, with a set amount ($260) each week which is for 'spending': groceries, clothes, gifts, coffees, books, movies, bus tickets, aquarium membership, small donations etc. Money for the home loan, miscellaneous expenses (doctors, mechanics, trips to visit family, house maintenance), school fees, and bills automatically come out of the account each fortnight. I keep track in a spreadsheet how much cash I have taken out each week, and how much I have spent on the credit card, and at the moment I'm over budget.
Averaged out over the 42 weeks of the year already past, I'm about $30 a week overspent. This means I have only $130 a week to spend for the remainder of the year before I rework my budget for 2012, and I haven't even thought about Christmas yet. Hmm.
The problem is that I've been in this same position at this time of the year for the last three years, ending the year about $1200 overspent. So even though the amount I spend in a week in total is less than some people I know spend just on groceries, I'm consistently spending too much.
The Man says that maybe I haven't allocated enough money, and maybe the cost of food has gone up more than I think. I still think that maybe I'm buying stuff I shouldn't be, including food. I'm still struggling to not buy things just because I want them and they are a good price. I avoid shopping, I consider whether we really need it or not before I buy it, and try to stick with just using cash.
I'm thinking through some more strategies to keep on top of my spending.
What's your best strategy for keeping within budget?