Renee Butler
October 25, 2013 6:00 pm

Sometimes the worst part about being on a budget is the thought of it. That idea that you “can’t” do something can be really frustrating. Imagining that you should only spend $200 of your take-home budget on groceries is bound to cause even the most frugal person to imagine ramen noodle dinners and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Add to this the fact that your budget won’t change until you start making more money or pay something off and budgeting can feel also like a sentence – but it doesn’t have to.

Romance the ordinary a little bit and you could be surprised just how easy it is to live the good life on a shoestring.

DO THE MATH

The fact of the matter is that most of the things people think of as being inexpensive, really aren’t. For instance, let’s say that you decide to bring a sandwich for lunch each day. If the lunch meat is $9.99 a pound and the cheese is $3.99 for a half pound, you can expect to spend $14 a week on just the meat and cheese and that doesn’t even include the loaf of bread ($2.99), whatever toppings (tomatoes, lettuce, mayo). Before you know it, you are spending $20 a week in sandwich making supplies, or around $4 a day – plus you have to actually take the time to make them!

You are actually losing money when you figure that you can get a small sandwich from Subway for roughly the same, and that includes a drink!

It may be better to bring a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup (usually on sale 3 for $5) and a handful of baby carrots ($1 a pound, on sale). Your cost drops to around $2 a day

FRESH FLOWERS AND CLOTH NAPKINS

Food isn’t the only thing you can do the math on. Good budgeting is about being creative and using each dollar for your maximum enjoyment.

Think about fresh flowers and cloth napkins. Sound like an extravagance? Not really. You can get 12 cloth napkins for $5 at Target – and they are reusable. Why not use those instead of giant packs of napkins for which you spend $4 once a month or rolls of paper towels?  The same is true with flowers. You can get a small bunch of gorgeous looking, sweet smelling flowers for around $5 – you could spend that much on room air freshener. Plus, you could save even more by buying a potted, fragrant plant.

Flowers and cloth napkins are little touches help make your life feel more comfortable. After all, it is hard to feel like you are pinching pennies when your home is filled with flowers, cloth napkins, and other fancies.

THIS VS THAT

It really comes down to “this” vs “that” – and it is a principle you can use in other areas of your life as well. Why spend $15 on carryout dinner for one when you could make something at home and use the money you save to hit happy hour with your friends? Going out to dinner but don’t have much cash? Order soup. It is low cost, good for you, and filling. Best of all, your bill is going to be around 1/3 what it would have been if you ordered an entrée.

Featured image via ShutterStock

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