Sunday, July 17, 2011

Keeping a Budget

Okay, I'm stepping away from all of the Micah talk for a minute here. :)

I truly feel like part of my job as a stay at home mom is to help us save money. Since I'm not bringing in any money, I should find ways to save us money. That's my way of contributing to our household finances. There's a lot of ways that I do this.

The first is by keeping our budget. Last year both Brad and I read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. It seriously changed the way we deal with our money. We started by keeping track of every penny we spend. This was easy because we pretty much exclusively use our debit cards (with direct deposit I don't know how anyone carries around cash!). After two months of that, we sat down and took a good look at where our money was going. We were shocked that we were spending so much money on some items, but we never even realized it! Then, we created a monthly budget based off our bills and spending habits. However, we made some adjustments, realizing that it was silly to be spending so much money in certain areas. Now, every month we sit down together and plan out the next month's budget. I always keep a little notepad where I write down upcoming expenses that I know we will have (such as birthdays or weddings, Brad's license renewal, etc.) that are not part of our regular budget.

One thing that's difficult about budgeting for us is Brad's work schedule. Brad is technically hired for 32 hours a week (he gets paid hourly), but often works 40 hours. We can predict with fairly good accuracy how many hours Brad will work each week, but it can change. In addition, he's paid weekly. This seems nice except that it seems like our bills due dates are clustered so that they're all due either the first or the third week of the month, not leaving a lot of money left for groceries, gas, or whatever else we need that week. But we're learning how to make it work.

Setting up our budget like this has really helped us. I won't lie and say that we stick to it perfectly every month, but it has definitely helped us to curb our frivolous spending! I will also admit I have a weakness. I like to buy Micah clothes (and toys and books, but mostly clothes). Since babies are always growing, I'm allowed to spend a little bit on clothes for him each month (this is also good because really it's something I do anyway, no use fighting it just to get upset that I spent money we weren't planning on!).

Another thing I do to save us money is cut coupons and meal plan. I am by no means an expert at this. However, I typically save us anywhere from $10-20 each shopping trip. I think that's pretty good for a beginner! Meal planning also helps because it forces me to use what we already have. Then, when I go to the grocery store I buy only what we need for that week/next two weeks. I'll write another post about couponing and meal planning soon as this one is starting to get kind of long.

Anyway, that's what we do to help save us money. What are some tips you have to save money?

1 comment:

  1. You might already be doing this but I've gotten into the habit of always checking online for coupons before I purchase clothes or other items say from sports authority or wherever I'm going. Also this is on any major "money" site but in case there's someone reading who isn't into finance blogs - always call & try to negotiate your insurance, cable/internet/phone rates once a year (obviously you can't do this every month or your acct will get noted as giant pain and no one will want to give you a break) but I've had luck with this sometimes (and sometimes not). I also pack my own lunch from home 4 out 5 days a week. This is huge; people spend so much $ eating out for lunch that they probably don't even realise.