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How do I make a livable budget?

My DH and I are trying to figure out whether it will be within our means to buy our first home. I am trying to create a budget that reflects the least possible amount we can spend on groceries and other non-utility type things. I'd love some advice on how other families cut down on grocery and other spending, as well as how you all figure your budgets - whether you just estimate and hope for the best, or if there is some formula to how you figure it....

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Asked by Anonymous at 4:22 PM on Sep. 14, 2009 in Money & Work

Answers (7)
  • i actually have an excel sheet of all of our bills and then what is left over for groceries, eating out, etc. i print it off so we can check off the bills as we pay them. doing this might give you a good idea of what you can afford for a mortgage payment but be sure to leave some for emergencies.

    Answer by Anonymous at 4:23 PM on Sep. 14, 2009

  • We cut up our credit cards, because we can't handle them. We keep one in our safe for deposits or emergencies, but other than that we NEVER use them. We figure out how much we can get by on groceries, hygiene products and entertainment and use cash. Once that cash is gone for the month, that's it!! I like using cash because it makes me think twice about an unnecessary purchase. We have an account through ING Direct and any time we have even 10.00 left over I transfer it over to the savings account. We never have extra money in our checking account.
    There really are no tricks. It's all about disipline. We had to make some serious lifestyle changes. It's all about disipline. Once you start making even small changes, you will start to think about other ways to save and cut expenses. The good news is we just bought our first house and we close this month:)

    Answer by theutilitarian at 4:50 PM on Sep. 14, 2009

  • Here are a few things I do to cut expenses.
    Always turn the lights off when not in use.
    Unplug appliances when not in use.
    Cut dryer sheets in half.
    Quit smoking!! (i'm still working on this one)
    Find free family activities to do
    Have a picnic at the park, instead of going out to eat.
    Buy generic instead of name brand
    Use coupons

    Answer by theutilitarian at 4:52 PM on Sep. 14, 2009

  • It's tough. Really it is. But make a list of your bills each month and what exactly you have to pay. Even do this with groceries and gas and misc items such as diapers and toilet paper. Then follow that list to a T. Cut back on eating out. If there is something you like to eat out like chicken, buy the items at the store and make your own variation instead. It will be much cheaper that way. Also use coupons. Cut them out of the sunday paper. I usually buy 2 papers on sunday so i get more coupons. And like the other person said, use generic brand stuff. It is all the same to me, the only thing that changes is the price tag. Good luck with everything!

    Answer by Ali-Rippy at 6:21 PM on Sep. 14, 2009

  • Make a great income! FROM HOME!!

    I'm happily engaged and we are about to buy our first home. We live in a small town where it is really hard to find a decent job, so I've been searching for a way to work at home. I recently found a home-based opportunity with no large investments and no risk! I work in the comfort of my own home with an international, 24 year old, Inc 500 company. All I do is set up customer accounts and do some online marketing. I work around my own schedule, with a group of amazing team members. I never even have to leave my own home to be successful!

    If this is something you'd be interested in, please visit my website.

    I think that once you hear more information about the company, you'll love it just as much as I do!

    I hope to hear from you soon :)

    Answer by lynsey7 at 7:21 PM on Sep. 14, 2009

  • To make a realistic budget, start with what you spend now. See where you can cut back (like paper towels) and where you will need to spend more (like homeowners insurance instead of renters insurance)

    Here is a link to my favorite tips for saving at the grocery store:


    Answer by rkoloms at 7:27 PM on Sep. 14, 2009

  • before you buy a house I recommend reading dave ramseys total money makeover he recommends putting at least HALF of the price of the house down as a down payment and then doing a 15 year term ther average american will pay $80,000 more in interest alone when doing a 30 year term compared to a 10-15 year (thats enough to buy anothe rhouse!) read his book check out his web site he even has a budget calculator on his web site to help you figure out if now is the time to buy a house remember you need to budget for more than just groceries you need to haev a safety net for when the furnace goes out, when the pipes burst, when the toilet breaks, when a tree crashes through a window, when the roof needs to be replaced when the garage door breaks etc. Home ownership costs so much more than just a mortgage payment you need to have a big chunk of savings for when those emergencies happen that your landlord would normally pay for

    Answer by katiekruschke at 7:58 PM on Sep. 14, 2009

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