Bon Appétit, Budget

Smart Ways to Curb your Spending Appetite

Article by Pamela McWhorter

Photography by Matthew J Capps

Originally published in Loveland Lifestyle

For many of us, the idea of going on a budget sounds about as dreadful as going on a diet. When you feast your eyes on a designer bag, you’re ready to indulge—but then your wallet wags its finger and says “Uh-uh-uh, finish paying the electric bill first.” But who wants to finish eating a carrot, when there’s a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting right in front you? 

Thankfully, going on a budget doesn’t mean depriving yourself of all your favorite tastes. Like a healthy diet, budgeting is really a matter of balance, according to Edward Jones financial advisor Matthew Hoekzema. To help prioritize spending and saving, Matthew suggests the 50-30-20 rule. 

“Fifty percent of your income should go toward your needs—groceries, housing, transportation, healthcare, clothing, education, childcare,” he explains. “Thirty percent would be your wants. That’s where you can pick and choose—maybe it’s an expensive gym membership, going to the movies, or going out to eat. Then 20 percent should go toward paying yourself, whether that’s your 401k or IRA accounts, and also paying down your debts.” 

How you decide to track your budget really depends on your style and comfort level. Maybe you’re more a “meat and potatoes” budgeter and like to use a pencil and paper. Or perhaps you prefer the details and control that come with working with a spreadsheet. Matthew says there are also several free apps, such as Mint, that can simplify budgeting—even for the most math-adverse. Some banks even offer budgeting and savings tools within their own apps.

Looking for more ways to curb your appetite for spending? Matthew suggests using the envelope method to control discretionary spending and credit card expenses—where you take cash out of the bank and place it in envelopes labeled for different expenses. For instance, if you set aside $150 a month for fine dining, and the lobster puts you a dollar over, you need to choose something different on the menu.

Managing your food expenses is especially important these days, as we’ve all seen a rise in grocery prices and dinner checks. However, Matthew says a few simple habits can help keep food costs from taking too big a bite out of your wallet.

Keep food expenses from gobbling up your budget with these tips:

  1. Buy the store brand. You can save about 40% on average.1
  2. Get a Costco or Sam’s Club membership. With a little planning and some storage space, you can save a significant amount by buying in bulk. Basic annual membership fees run well under $100 at either warehouse.
  3. Drive past the drive-through window. A fast-food meal for four can cost around $40. Pack your lunch instead or bring snacks to that sports practice pickup. 
  4. Keep tabs on your restaurant check. Besides opting for lighter fare, watch your bar tab, too, as liquor up-charges can really add up. 

If you have financial questions for Matthew, you can find him at 790 Lila Avenue in Milford, which way back in the day was Heap Big Beef. Matthew doesn’t have a drive-through window, but he does offer a full menu of financial services. | 513.831.4323

1Pamela Vachon, “Ever Wonder How Much Cheaper Store-Brand Groceries Are? We Did the Math,”, June 22, 2023, (accessed August 28, 2023).

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