Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Making Things Balance

I love making our budget balance.  I think that using that as a guide gives me peace of mind.  I know that I can do something, spend something, take care of a need when I know everything is balanced. Quicken and Quickbooks are excellent for the daily planner like me.

But planning long term doesn't seem to be my forte.  I can save up for something in the short term, but long term goals seem lost on me. It seems that something always comes up that prevents me from saving for that big trip or big ticket item.  I always relied on making payments.  It's an easy way not to sacrifice and scrimp.  I need to figure out a way to save and not be able to touch it.

This week in review:  Costco has become my favorite place to save.  I usually stick to my list and come out with items we use at a much lower cost.  I have been comparing per ounce sizes of many items between Costco and Pavilions and I'm pleasantly surprised at the savings.  I've been able to stock up on toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, shampooo/conditioner, razors, etc.  In addition, I find deals on cheese, milk, eggs, bread, etc.  I stay away from pre-packaged foods for the most part except maybe for the frozen pizzas!

I've been using a new app on my Android phone (sorry, iPhone users), called Grocery Tracker.
 It is amazing.  I've completely stopped using my grocery list spreadsheet.  I can enter the items I'm out of for either the grocery store or Costco and also my menu for the week.  I know it has saved me money and time.  It keeps track of how much all the items in my cart cost so I can see at a glance how much I've spent so far.

Monday, July 29, 2013

How To Give Your Budget A Kick In The Pants

Doing things step by step is a good idea.  We follow Dave Ramsey's principals.  It keeps you focused on one single goal.  Multi-tasking is not my forte, so I've learned to do one thing well and when it is finished move on to the next thing.
In life, this doesn't always work.  With three kids, sometimes I need to do three things at once.  Usually no one gets my full attention and nothing is completed quickly or accurately.  Sometimes I don't even hear what they say.  So to focus on one child at a time while the other two wait, works much better for me.
Even in cooking when the rice needs to cook while the chicken is baking and the veggies need to be steamed, I usually get two of the three done and we end up waiting for the third thing to finish cooking. 
Our home budget had been humming along in slow mode.  Small deposits going into multiple tiny sinking funds, for future purchases: Christmas, auto repairs, animals, accountant, insurance.  Nothing was getting fully funded.  When I had to divert some funds for sports fees and back to school items, it seemed that I would never get anything accomplished fast.  I had gotten back into my old habit of funding too many buckets and nothing was getting done.

Ax That Budget!
That's when I decided to take an ax to our budget.
I kept rent, a tiny bit of food, fixed expenses and that's it.  I zeroed out ALL other categories.  Lo and behold there was lots of money left over. Slowly I added things back in, but not without first seeing how big of a shovel I could get.  I cancelled all sinking funds, blew away the blow money, cancelled the travel fund, slashed the entertainment, and squeezed the groceries til they screamed.
It hasn't always been fun.  Summer is usually the months of excess lunches out, sweet treats, impromptu dinners and excursions.  Planned expensive amusement parks and multiple extra trips to the gas station.  The last month has been a bit more relaxed and lazy.  A few free movies and an inexpensive trip to the bowling alley.  Walking has been top on the list and visits to the library have been frequent.  The money that we saved has been used to catch up on some past due bills.  Getting our finances back on track is a top priority for me in the next 6 months.  We can't keep sliding downhill in our finances or we will find ourselves with a mountain of debt again.
So the sports fees are covered, the school clothes will get bought and the light at the end of the tunnel is coming again.

Baby Step 2, the never ending saga....

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Budget Committee Meeting

This week in our Financial Peace class we talk about a spending plan or "budget".  Even though I'm facilitating the class, I'm doing the homework and following the spending plan as well.  I should be doing this faithfully anyway, right?!  This week our assignment was to prepare the budget for May and present it to the budget committee meeting.

Since I'm the nerd, I prepared the budget and presented it to my free spirit husband. 
It was the first time in a very, very long time that we had this meeting.  I generally take care of the household finances.  As long as we have food on the table and the bills get paid, he's happy to trust me.  I like this since I'm a micro-manager when it comes to money.  But that is a shortcoming of mine that I need to work on.  I want the plan to go my way without anyone messing with it.  I know real mature!  Since we have a partnership, it is/was a great idea to work on this together.  We had a great talk and I felt like we are on the same page.  It's nice to discuss this because I love working with numbers so much.  I feel like a team.  Go team!

We also worked on doing an all cash week in regards to food.  We took out $200 for groceries and another $40 for dinner's out.  Not one debit transaction for groceries and dinner out!  It is amazing to me that a family of 5 can eat through $200 worth of food in one week!  I've got to get back to couponing and really stockpiling.  That's for another post.
How was your week?  Did you try a category in your budget in cash?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A day in the life of a grocery shopper

4/28/13  Sunday was a good day.  DD#2 sang in church, very cute.  After church I taught my 2nd Dave Ramsey FPU class.  It is going well.  I think it is making classmates think about their money more.  They all have different reasons for coming to the class.  But paying more attention to where their money is going will at least give them some options for making changes.
Savings is definitely high on their lists, but didn't prior to this seem to be a priority.
After class, I used my envelopes and got my cash out for groceries.  A few good things were on sale, so I stocked up.  I planned more than a week's worth of dinners.  There's lots of ideas for breakfasts.  So next week should be a little lighter.  The only thing that will need to be added next week is lunch stuff and fresh produce.   The total was $187, so I dipped into the auto fuel cash a bit.  My classmates seem to think $160 is quite low for groceries per week for a family of 5. I am still shocked when my bill gets close to $200, so it is going to be an adjustment for me if I'm going to spend an average of $160-180 a week.  As the children grow, the frig gets low!
Tomorrow, I'm planning a "no spend" day.  The frig is stocked, I don't think we are going anywhere.  So it should be easy enough.  Especially since we had a fun weekend spending!  We ate out and shopped.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kids, Work, and Me?

The days when your children are in elementary school are full.  Too full sometimes.  I sometimes get to 9pm and realize I've hardly sat down.  Not a lot of me time in there.  Balancing kids, work, relationships with husband and friends, and me time isn't easy.  Sometimes I just need a time-out.  That is what I did.  I snuck away and read my book last night and enjoyed a bit of quiet time.  Yes, dinner was late and yes the kids went to bed late, but I still spent time with DH and got to bed at a reasonable time.
When I focus too much on a certain part of life, mainly financial, I create unbalance.  I've found that prayer and refocused attention has greatly reduced anxiety.  Thinking about other parts of life give me joy.  I've been baking more, playing more, reading more, enjoy friends more.

Today the dog is going to the groomer.  He needs it.  I love having a dog that doesn't shed.  Paying for someone else to groom him might not be someone elses idea of frugalism, but I don't cut anyone's hair in my house either!  They won't let me touch their hair!  I've got a record.
Baseball, Soccer, and Softball keep us busy this time of year.  The weather has been nice in So CA, and during practices I get a bit of me time while they practice.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Homemade Pizza and Dental Expenses

March 13 - Lots of homemade and partially homemade goodies lately.  I made homemade pizza dough and turned it into pizza pinwheels.  Then we have had 3 days of bento box type lunches.  It's been fun to get ideas off of pinterest and bento box websites.  Abby seems to have enjoyed all the lunches so far.  You'd think all the homemade items would save me money, but actually our grocery budget has been going up, up, up.  I set aside $160 for this week and blew through that and another $30 before Wednesday.  I had to make another run for butter, sour cream, and cheese for our baked potato bar tonight and that plus a few other items ran up another $40.  So now just this week, we are up to $230 for FOOD!  Next week won't be a light week because we are out of all meat in the freezer and I'll need to get at least ground beef and chicken, plus all the other odds and ends.  I'm really going to have to sit down with the budget and take a long look at our grocery consumption.

Claire had a tooth removed today.  It was in the way of a permanent tooth behind it and she will have a spacer put in on Friday.  That was $242 that I had not planned on.  I thought I would get a bill at a later date.  Luckily I was able to quickly transfer some money from our Christmas fund to cover it.  Budgeting for medical and dental is not a top priority in our budget.  Whenever I build up the fund a little bit, it gets used.  So it's frustrating.  I'd like to get a couple of thousand in the HSA and then not have to think about the copay here and the deductible there each year.  Will probably need to re-work the budget to include a larger contribution.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Starting October's Training

I know, I know.  It's been a long time since I've blogged publicly.  I haven't stopped writing, just haven't published anything.
My health and well-being has really been on my mind lately.  The business is plugging along.  We've been gearing up for our busy season in our family with three birthdays and a Halloween party.  Beefing up and spending out the sinking funds for gifts and parties.  I've also started a new taxes fund (real exciting), so that we won't get stuck with a big tax bill again next year.  I've been more focused on me and not quite so stressed about money which is a good thing.
I've lost 18 lbs so far in my quest to become stronger and sexier!  ha!  I feel like I'm getting more out of the gym classes than I've ever gotten.  I worked more on my arms this week and boy do I feel it!  
Today, 10/18/12 I started a couch potato to 5K training regimen   It starts out slowly and builds up to a full 5 K run over many weeks.  Today I just did a 20 minute workout.  It was great!  I listened to music and followed the program.  5min warm-up, 60 sec jog, 60 sec walk, repeat.  I even treated myself to a frappucino at the end!  I'm looking to build up my stamina and see an improvement in my not so toned up legs!  It also would be a nice bonus to run in The Great Race with the rest of my family this Spring!  Wally, Abby, and Spencer all ran the 5K last year and Claire ran the Kids' One Mile.  I did nothing but stand there and cheer.  Not this year.  
On Sunday at church I'm going to do a budget talk.  The last one wasn't well received, so I'm anxious that no one will come, but nonetheless, I have to prepare.  I'm obviously a big fan of Dave Ramsey's teachings, so there will definitely be a big spin on it based on his principals and teachings.  My goal is to provide people with a reason to budget that they never thought of before.  A jumping off place for more in depth discussions.  I also talked to our pastor and teaching an FPU class was well received, so I will probably teach one in January!
Today our firewood is being delivered.  I'm excited to have a nice warm living room all winter without having to spent so much for little bundles at the grocery store.  I was always so stingy with that wood because it was such a small amount.  Now I can start fires in the afternoons when the kids get home from school and have it warm until 10pm at night.  A warm, cozy home is something I love from my childhood!