Lesson #2: Reign it in

My reaction is similar to this boy's every time I spot Trader Joe's. Via Flickr user allegr0.

My reaction is similar to this boy’s every time I spot Trader Joe’s. Via Flickr user allegr0.

Grocery shopping and restaurants are my weakness.

I splurge on snacks at Trader Joe’s, can’t pass up the fruit section at the local farmers market, and end up at my favorite pho soup restaurant way too often. All in all, I tend to go a little overboard with my food spending.

In my last lesson, I talked about tracking how much and where you spend money each month. (I use Mint.) That’s only part of the battle. Lesson #2 of how to budget is reign in your spending in constant problem areas.

My constant problem area is food, so I know to watch my spending there and not always buy the newest sauce at Trader Joe’s. I also save a lot by not buying lunch every day that I’m at work.

So now that you’ve tracked how you spend your money, identify your problem area. Do you overspend on restaurants? Cook in more often. Concert tickets? Set a monthly limit for yourself. Clothing? Don’t walk into the store as often. Ceramic kittens? You may have a problem.

The idea is simple: identify the problem area and learn how to curb your spending there, whether it’s through habit change (cooking in more) or tricking yourself (staying away from clothing stores).

Since I know I turn into a fiend in Trader Joe’s (seriously), I only go once or twice a month. I avoid the spending spree I know will ensue.

Plus, it saves me the embarrassment of dashing through the aisles like I’ve never seen food before.

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