Monday, February 18, 2008

Budgeting, coupons, menus and me

I am here. After a nice long weekend of family, sick babies and stressed out budgeting I am back and feeling feisty!

So, I sat down the other day and did a basic sample budgte to see where exactly all of our money is going. (ALL of our money? I make it sound like we have a lot. NOT.) The bare bones result of this is that with averaged amounts in all of the categories..... we are about $230 negative. Which totally explains why I am juggling bills every month and trying to not stress out when I need to go to the grocery store. I mean.... having to make a choice between diapers and gas is not fun.

As a result of this big revalation that we are broke, I have decided that it is time for me to maximize my husbands paycheck. Any suggestions on frugality would be kindly appreciated.

I am going to begin my quest by being careful with the electricity and gas we use for heating and cooling. As well as replacing all of our existing bulbs with the energy efficient kind. And reminding myself, DH and DD to turn off lights when we are not in a room! I also plan to go back to hanging out clothes on the line when possible. At least things like towels, jeans and blankets. Dryers eat up the power.

I sat down yesterday and made a monthly menu. I used a desk sized calendar page and color coded first. I used yellow stickers for chicken nights, red for beef, blue for pork and green for other. I did this so that I would have a good mix of different types of meats. And not end up with four different chicken dishes in a row. I don't need to grow feathers. I then wrote in my menu plan for each day.

Then, I made a list of every single ingredient that I needed to have to make each and every dish for the month. And went through and crossed off what I already have. And there! Voila! My shopping list! For dinners, anyway. I had to sit down and think about breakfasts and lunches as well. But, basically, I am going shopping this faternoon armed with a comprehensive list of what I really need in order to cook dinners for this entire month. Plus luncha nd breakfast options. Drink mixes, snacks, etc. In moderation.

I clipped my coupons, organized them, made notations on my shopping list of what items I have a coupon for and am about to start a quick internet search for other coupons that I know I need. I will be very interested to see exactly what my total bill will be at the end of the day. I may just post a copy of the grocery list with total saved and total spent. Depends on how my day goes!

As far as other savings, I am trying to potty train my eldest boy. That would cut down my diaper bill by 1/2. Whenever it happens! LOL... I also plan to work on the quitting smoking thing. Seeing exactly how much I spend on cigarretes written down in black and white is very... eye opening. To say the least.

hmmmm....... any other great money saving tips?


Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Potty training is never easy...have fun!!

And the smoking thing? YOU GO GIRL!!! Get rid of that habit and spend that wasted money on something fun - like shoes!! :)


Anonymous said...

I recent;y came across this cool site: it has tons of money saving tips, ways to make money, how to use coupons, freebies, etc.

There was a thread on the MAPS MB a while back with some really great tips too.

As for grocery tips, find meals that you can double and freeze half for later in the month or the next month. Also for breakfast, make batches of pancakes or waffles at home and freeze them for later (I have recipes if you want them). You can also buy in bulk at SAMS. It is a little more in the beginning but saves a lot in the end.

Momma Bum said...

I want to do the budget thing too. I'll try to work on mine also and we can share our results. I know we blow alot. After being home for the last several days it's amazing how much cheaper it is to cook full meals and not pick up fast stuff. I keep trying to tell myself that if I would budget maybe it would help me pay off bills faster and help me get home.

The quitting smoking thing is great. In my experience you don't exactly see the extra money but one day you will realize that things got a little easier. Like maybe you had $50 extra at the end of the month to buy groceries that usually wasn't there. I smoked before both kids and am determined not to start back. I don't want Lil' Bum to see me and we don't need it.

Now if I could just get Mr. Bum to stop dipping. He said he was but hasn't yet.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with it all kiddo. You know I want you to quit the cigs. It will be so much better all the way around. Go to Oprah's site and check out the smoking thing they have going on now. They are trying to get people to stop too and Dr. Oz is helping out. I am not sure what there is but it might help. Mom.

Pioneering in PA said...

My hubby and I vowed to start the New Year by quitting smoking. We went from a pack a day each, to a pack every 2-3 days between us. But, then something happened and we kicked back in. We still aren't even close to what we used to smoke, a carton will last us one whole week where it used to last 5 days. Progress, it's glorious!
I looked at our budget once, and realized that a lot of our money is thrown out the window in fast food, or just eating out. Still is one major factor for weeks that I decide not to stick to our menu. I get so tired of doing the mom thing sometimes that I say what the hell, and don't feel like cooking. As far as monthly bills go, I have $500 a month go out in must have bills, and I'm trying to pay off hubby's debt so I can work on mine. It can happen, he brings in 2k a month and I add roughly 600 to it. All a matter of wanting to do it though, and I hate to part ways with money!
We lived on 200 a week last year for 5 months, and let me tell you.. rough didn't even begin to describe it. I really don't know how we made it, but most weeks I wound up with at least 40 left to throw onto the next week. A lot of internet browsing for frugality played into it!
Good luck, and the idea to freeze doubles really does work. I do it because I work in the summer, not because of money issues. But it's so nice to get by without prepping food!