A Girl’s Gotta Eat – Budgeting 101 Tips For Busy Lives

4 min read

Common budgeting mistakes

MONEY. Do you need more of it? Outside of winning the lottery, they tell me the secret is to start by spending less of the money you already have. Sounds lame, but we can do it!

I won’t lie, saving money is challenging and there are a heap of common budgeting mistakes that we are all guilty of making. Smart saving involves sacrifice, hard work, and uncomfortable adjustments. Thankfully, there are a lot of sensible and simple things you can do to get a little extra dough in your pocket.

1. Sensible food spend

Buying ready-made food racks up a tidy sum, so cut it out. Pre-plan your meals, and only hit the grocery store once a week. If you go on an ad-hoc basis whenever you need milk, you’ll come back with a leg of lamb, ice cream and a new mop bucket. Keep dinners easy, tasty, and big enough to last a few days. When making the effort to cook more, you’re not going to want to spend four hours perfecting your slow cooked tagine every night.

Same goes for lunches. Make a sandwich, not a fancy multi-layered salad in a jar. Surely no one has that many jars, and they’re awkward to fit in the dish washer.

“Buying ready-made food racks up a tidy sum, so cut it out.”

2. Ditch the labels

I feel like this one is sacrilege for a pro-fashion blog, but hear me out. You might think that you need the latest hot labels or the best kind of shirt fabric, or even be comfortable. But secretly, people wear ill-fitting clothes all the time, and it’s the least bad thing about their day. Limiting yourself to the affordables — I’m talking Kmart, Target, H&M, anywhere you can buy a blazer for under $40 — is totally doable, and if you’re fabulous you’ll look good in a potato sack, so naturally we will all be fine.

“Secretly, people wear ill-fitting clothes all the time, and it’s the least bad thing about their day.”

3. Get a high-interest savings account

I know, ‘high interest’ doesn’t exist right now, but there are some higher-than-average options. However, it must be one of those Azkaban-type accounts that ask for a passcode, a text, and the blood type of your mum’s first cousin, twice removed before you can break in — perfect for eliminating impulse splurges. The digital age means I can access my snack money with a thumbprint, but substantial savings don’t fit into that equation, so do yourself a favour and add 400 steps to cracking into your would-be property deposit before it becomes a new pair of pumps.

4. Netflix and save

You’ll be tempted to join the hordes of testosterone vessels bustling to the nearby cinema for the latest installment of The Bourne Identity — but girl, step back. You’re supposed to be saving. Why treat yourself to the perfectly manufactured escapism of a cool, dark, popcorn-smelling cinema when you can set up your own home movie den? It’s actually pretty fun. You can build blanket forts. Turn down the lights, make some popcorn, crack open a can of whatever you want because it’s your own damn home, and blast Matt Damon’s big glorious head from your own laptop.

5. A Sensible PayCation

You know what they say about travel — Don’t worry about the money, just do it. Soz but the person who said that probably had a lot of money, because last I checked, international travel ain’t cheap. Holidays, however, are a must. Mental reboots are important, and you can still make memories without breaking the bank. If you want to get away, find a nice B&B or resort chain nearby. I’ve even booked hotels in the city I live, just so I can enjoy fresh sheets and a change of scenery without having to clean up after myself.

“Hot tip: If your hotel does a buffet breakfast, make yourself a sandwich for lunch. They really dgaf.”

Common budgeting mistakes
Photo: @jenkay Common budgeting mistakes

6. Smell the roses

Saving money can be an emotional strain, so don’t always deny yourself life’s little pleasures. If you cooked for yourself all week instead of giving in to the $30 takeaway pizza meal deal, don’t feel bad about going out to lunch with a friend or buying your morning coffee instead of settling for the office’s grimy instant. Sometimes we all need to catch an Uber, or buy a nice new top. Sometimes the movie version of your favourite book is coming out, and f*** the world, you’re going to see it. As long as you follow the basic guidelines, you’re doing okay.

“Pre-plan your meals, and only hit the grocery store once a week.”

7. A little perspective goes a long way

Never walk past a person sleeping rough and not feel deep empathy for them. There are hungry people who would love to have a boring soup to cook, a paying job, and a safe place to sleep at night. Remember those people when times are tough, and you’ll appreciate everything you have. Helping others is also a great way to achieve fulfillment in a busy and trying world, and you can do it for much less than a plane ticket.

Need more budgeting inspo? Check out how Anna Hatoanto made her first million, here.

Click here to subscribe

We would love to hear your budgeting wins,  fails, tips and tricks in the comments below. To chat with Bonnie and other female businesswomen in the Iris Lillian Squad, head over here and keep the convo going.


Common budgeting mistakes

Cover photo credit: hellofashionblog.com

  1. Debra says

    Hey Bonnie, awesome tips. I am a firm believer in the omelette or baked beans on toast emergency dinner rather than forking out for take-away or home delivery. And yes, empathy is key!! great post.

    1. Bonnie Gardiner says

      Thanks Debra! Great idea, now I’m planning my next omelette!

  2. Enjoy London says

    really good advice!! amazing post.

  3. Luciana @ Lilt Blog says

    Wonderful post with such great tips.
    I definitely need to be more conscious of spending way too much money on food and planning more.

    Thanks for sharing

    x Luciana

    1. Iris Lillian says

      Hey Luciana, I tend to spend too much money on items I don’t need at the supermarket and a lot spoils before I get around to eating it. I think planning meals is key! Let us know how you get on over the next few weeks. x

  4. Nikita Hall says

    Nailed it girl! Agree with all of the above, especially one supermarket shop a week, planning means & being thrifty with clothes.
    If I could add 1 more, it would be to not be afraid of the op shop! My last haul included a Carla Zampatti top & dress, Manning Cartell dress, 3 Life With Bird t-shirts and more, all for under $60, and all near-new!

    1. Iris Lillian says

      Wow – that sounds like the haul of the century! The Op Shop is certainly a great addition. Thanks, Nikita.

    2. Bonnie Gardiner says

      That’s amazing, definitely going to visit my neighbourhood vinnies this weekend now!

  5. Ilka Bermann says

    Great post! I need to shop weekly, currently I’m in the grocery shop every two days 🙁
    But I’ll work on it. Thank’s for sharing xx

    1. Iris Lillian says

      You’re very welcome Ilka. What delicious dish are you planning to bulk cook this week? x

  6. Cara @ Fashionably Frugal says

    I loved the comment about the Azkaban type saving account! I created a savings account in a completely separate bank from my regular day-to-day account and do auto-deposits from each paycheck. I completely forget about that money and it keeps adding up every month towards that first home purchase.
    Thank you for sharing your tips, now I have to go find out the blood type of my mothers first cousin, twice removed 😉

    1. Iris Lillian says

      Good on you, Cara. You’re kicking some penny-pinching butt! BTW, I think it’s O negative… 😉

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.