Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Every Penny

We try to live very frugally so that if an emergency arises we aren't put in a bad financial situation.  I was never very good with money, so when I first married M I was introduced to some basic but important ideas about saving and debt.  When we bought a new house last year we used a lot of our rainy day fund to make some needed remodels and changes so that it would be a healthier and cleaner environment for the kids. New flooring and some repairs in and around the place added up. On top of that, we paid two mortgages while we were getting ready to sell our old house, so it was a year of expenses.  Of course, just when you think that you can get a handle on things, the oven breaks.  (No, really, our oven broke.)  Property taxes are due, we found out last night that our medical insurance costs will be going up almost $300 per month, and we need a new garbage disposal along with some plumbing work.  When it rains it pours, right?  When I think of it all it overwhelms me.  Since we send our kids to Montessori school our childcare expenses are high, too.  That's not a complaint, just a fact, and we gladly pay it because we feel that they are really thriving in that environment.  However, that takes up a good chunk of my salary, so I have to be creative with money.

I am in no way trying to compare us to people that truly struggle. We have plenty of food and never worry that we won't be able to pay the water bill, but when we have months that are tight financially, I have to wonder of we just have a lot of waste in our life.  I throw away too much food. We aren't organized so I end up buying something that we already have.  Do the kids really need more clothes?  (The answer is NO).  Getting organized and budgeting resources as well as money is something that we will have to do to make real headway. We have all of the expenses that I mentioned, but we would also like the freedom to get a new TV or take the kids to Sea World one weekend. So, I am going to concentrate on organizing and reducing waste in January and February.

Here are some of my ideas:

Strict meal planning - no getting lazy and ordering out
Sort through toys - Some of our toys can be put into the garage sale box
Starbucks habit - I really need to cut down on my visits. I'm thinking of reducing it to once a day on weekends only.
No more clothes for the kids unless it is an urgent need - they have so many clothes.
Organize the pantry - I know I could make meals out of there for a week, but it's too messy for me to see everything we have

We'll see how this works.  I would love to hear any more ideas if you have them.  I am hoping that baby steps become big steps as the year progresses.


  1. Coupons, coupons, coupons. Matched up with sale prices...it really does add up.
    (Let me know what coupons you are seeing that you like - I'll gladly send some your way!)

    We too live pretty tight - our state has some of the highest daycare rates in the nation - and here I was thinking that come fall, with 1 kid heading off to kindy, we'd have a few bucks leftover - turns out we'll be paying MORE since our state doesn't pay for all day kindy - we do!
    It's a constant battle, one I thought I'd be done with long before I was this age!

    I find myself constantly trying to ask gift givers to give us useful things - we don't need anymore toys, clothes or movies...Things like museum passes, etc are wonderful -
    It all adds up - one dollar at a time.

  2. We definitely need to track our money better this year. Now that we finally have an income (yay! ), we can work om creating a better budget. One thing that helps me is using a cash envelope with cash for groceries. It keeps me accountable and stops me from picking up that "one" special treat so often.
    good luck!

  3. I have some of the same goals. I need to really organize my pantry so I will KNOW what's in there.

  4. I am on the same page with you!
    I'm trying to give myself an "allowance" of $50 a week. Anything left from that $50 goes into savings at the end of the week. IF I continually have money left, I'm going to try and lower my allowance.
    I'm also setting a grocery budget and doing the same with leftover money.
    Coupons are going to be HUGE for me! With the new baby coming and us needing tons of stuff for the baby we need all the money we can save. Plus, we'd like to move....at some point!

  5. I hated math in school, yet I constantly have numbers floating around in my brain--Im the "CFO" in our house, so I see everything--and it stresses me out. Part of the reason I had to go back to work--we just couldnt make it work with one income.
    Im a huge bargain hunter, buy store brands for a lot of things, shop thrift for clothes, and coupons is where I need to be better. We can hold each other accountable! Starbucks takes a lot of my $ too!

  6. bargain shopping - coupons/sale adds - it is totally time consuming, but I rely on some local bloggers to help me out on that end.
    i started meal planning, and am AMAZED at the money it saves. truly amazing.
    and, i had to learn to live w/o my starbucks too. it is sad, but now i get REALLY excited when I can have one! (if that doesn't sound like a crack addict.... lol)

  7. I am single mother, so more than never I need to watch my money. I love a bargain and I take pride on finding the best deals out there. Good luck! I should stop eating out so much!

  8. We adjusted our temperature in our house by 2 degrees, and saved on our electric. We wash our clothes in cold water, and saw a drastic change in our water bill. We ditched our extended cable package, and got Netflix. We got a land line, and reduced our cell phone plan. The land line has free local and long distance, and it only cost us an extra $10 a month, but we chopped $30 off the cell bill. We can make those long calls at home instead of in the car, saving money and being safter. Bonus! I started buying our pull ups and diapers on Amazon and saved a TON. You can sign up with Amazon Mom and get free 2 days shipping. Organizign our errands. Instead of running out four times, we take two minutes and figure out the most logical way to get things done. This saves us on gas money. I stay home with the kids, and so we have to save where we can! I do use coupons as well, but I'm not insane with them. I do check out consignment shops for the kids clothes, but I am awesome at finding good deals on clearance racks. Kohl's rocks when it comes to that. Hope even a smidgen of that helps.

  9. I am the same way - I let too much get away from me this year and need to be better at not spending! :)

  10. I plan ahead for 2 weeks and only do one big grocery trip every two weeks. We pick up meat, milk, eggs when needed. Coupons! This has helped with money and feeling a little organized. We too, set aside a certain amount for groceries and pay cash and when it's gone, it's gone.