February 11, 2013
When I lost my part time job at the end of last year, I realized we would not just be living on one income. My husband started working part time last year so we could see him for more than one hour each night. So we would be living on half of an income…for a family of seven. Fun stuff.
We had ‘tried’ to budget many times. Even tried to do the cash envelope system. No dice. However, living on 1/2 of an income for a family of seven…wow. We needed to buckle down and figure out something FAST.
I found a series on budgeting from dontwastethecrumbs.com, took some notes, and we sat down to figure out a working budget. My husband’s area to pare down was the snacks and drinks on the way home and the itunes that were ‘only’ $1-3 here & there. Without realizing it, that sometimes adds up to several hundred dollars/month! My area was to pare down gas and groceries. This meant telling friends we were going to travel ½ as much (though they are welcome to come here!). For the grocery budget, I decided to do a lot of little things that add up.
- Clean & organize the freezer (now I have a fruit shelf, a veggie shelf, a bean/meat shelf, and a flour shelf). This way, I was able to see what could be used & plan meals around what I had.
- Eat more veggies! Fruit is more expensive than veggies so at the end of meals, when my kids want something else (which means fruit, normally), we instead offer them veggies. Don’t get me wrong, they get fruit. But before they would get 1-1.5 fruit whereas now they just get ½ a fruit and then they can have whatever veg. they want. Imagine – most of the time they just ask to be excused. That tells me they were not really still hungry at all.
- Only go to the grocery store once a week. I used to go once a week and then another time to get things we were low on or had forgotten. I would generally spend about the same at each trip. So, now, I am going to try to be more prepared the first time and make due when it comes to ‘needing’ something else until the next time.
I am on week one. I’m learning so much already! My budget was for $112 each week. I spent $98. I could technically go back and spend $14 more but I don’t think I’ve ever made it out of the grocery store spending that little so I am going to save that $14 for another week. My husband is planning on doing a juice fast soon so I can use that extra money for that. We are planning on buying chickens this spring so I can save up for that each week. Or, I may just need to use it one of these weeks for diapers. Who knows.
Because of the extra veggie eating, I have run out of carrots already but we are just eating celery instead. I am almost out of lettuce but I can get some out of the garden (it is not fully mature but I would rather do that then go to the grocery store & spend $). We ran out of PB. I have some raw almonds and raw cashews that we eat with our lunch normally but today, I made our own almond/cashew PB for our sandwiches – just stuck them in the food processor and after a couple of minutes, voila! It was very yummy and VERY rewarding to find a creative way to make do! 🙂
So, yes, it has been less than a week and it has been challenging. I have learned a lot though (about what a ‘need’ is vs a want) and figuring out ways to plan so as to not spend money we do not have has been very rewarding!
Here’s to making it through the short month of February debt-free with budget still in tact! 😀