Tip of the Day Tuesday: Don’t let the unexpected bust your budget

We’ve all been there. You get your grocery budget planned out for the month and you’re so excited and you’re ready to live by it and then BAM – the unexpected comes. You have to take food to your kid’s party at school, or there’s a potluck at church or work, or it’s your turn to take soccer treats, or you offered to help provide food for a bridal or baby shower. What do you do now? This month, I actually had to provide dessert for 60 people, stuff for my daughter’s Easter party at school, a meal for a potluck, and soccer treats. I have also been asked this question by a few readers and thought I’d share some ideas.

*Plan for the unexpected – One way you can avoid having these unexpected events bust your budget is to plan for the unexpected. You know that these types of events are going to come up. You don’t know when or how much you’ll need, but you can plan for them by setting aside a little bit of extra money here and there. Then, you can pull from that rather than your regular grocery budget to pay for the things you need when they come up.

*Use what you have – I stockpile what we need and use. So, when something comes up, I try to use what we have on hand. For example, I had to provide dessert for 50-60 people for our Dave Ramsey class on Sunday. Fortunately, I had a stockpile of cake mixes, brownie mixes, and cookie mixes, so I was pretty much able to use things that we had on hand. I also had to take bread, but I got that for free thanks to Target coupons. My only expense was $.92 for a bag of rice (I also had to bring rice) and $2 at the dollar store for styrofoam bowls. I also stockpile things like water, Capri Sun, and juice boxes not only because my kids use them, but because I know that it will eventually be my turn to take soccer snacks or help furnish something for preschool parties and it’s a lot cheaper to get those things when there’s a killer sale than the night before the event at full price.

*Adjust your plan for the week – Another benefit of having a stockpile is that when an unexpected event comes up, I can adjust my plan for the week and plan to eat out of my pantry so I don’t have to spend as much money at the grocery store. This is a good way to test out your stockpile and see if what you have on hand really “works” also in case you had to rely on it during an emergency. Our area was impacted by Hurricane Ike last year. Even though the area where I live wasn’t hit nearly as hard as other areas by the actual hurricane, the grocery stores were cleaned out for several days afterward. I was very thankful for our stockpile at that point!