Have you ever taken a real hard look at where you spend your paycheck every month? Paul and I recently hired a financial advisor and he made us do just that. We had to break up our cash flow for an entire year. When we saw how much was supposed to be left and how much was actually left - we got a good picture of how unrealistic we saw our spending.
Since then, we've both taken a serious effort in being aware of where we are spending money. By doing this, we've been able to curb our spending quite a bit. It forced us to look at our cell phone bills, our car insurance, our utility costs, and even our gas costs. The place we've been able to make the biggest impact on spending has been on groceries & clothing.
I never grocery shop unless I need things that will fulfill a few days worth of meals. Otherwise, I adjust what I had planned to make for what we have currently in the house. I'm mostly able to do this because we participate in the CSA providing us with 24 weeks of fresh produce. Without this, I'd likely need to make at least weekly trips to the market for produce. We regularly dig into our freezer and stretch our meat proteins as far as we can. We primarily drink water.
We also never go shopping for clothes or house goods unless we truly need them. Granted, we occasionally have an event we'll want a new shirt or dress for, but even then, we look to our closet 1st. We replace old worn clothing with new, but try and buy on sale and we don't buy things just because we like them. We only grab them if we know we need them.
Even with these changes - we've still fallen short on saving the amount we are expected to save based on our model. It's been a lot of work but we've come pretty close. My goal is to save a particularly large sum in 3 months. Its pretty aggressive, but I think we can do it by continuing to be smart about our spending. I hope setting a hard and firm sort term goal will hold us accountable and get us there.
Do you practice any good budgeting practices? We could use any advice you are willing to dish up!