Money Matters

I think accountability is a great motivation to stay on track for anything. Paul and I spend several hours at the end of each month reviewing how our budget worked for the previous month and tweaking and detailing it for the next month.
We do all of our banking online and monitor our account almost daily just to make sure things are coming and going like they're suppose to :)

We keep an Excel sheet that encompasses what each of our monthly expenses should be, and then lists what each month actually comes out to. I love having it done this way as it motivates us to try to lower expenses if they end up being higher than the month before.

Like our Power Bill. It is $42 more this month than it was last month. $42!! That's insane. Seeing the huge jump between Aprils costs and Mays costs has inspired us to not make the AC quite so cold and to start using our ceiling fans. We'll see if there's a difference when we get next months bill... it is only going to get hotter so I am not too hopeful about the bill being lowered.

Having the Excel sheet is also encouraging. Our grocery/household expenses bill has dropped the last couple of months. We budgeted $350 a month for all groceries, diapers, toiletries and any other household item. In April we (saying "we" sounds better than saying "I"!) spent $400+ ... in May I spent $318! May is when we started pulling cash out of our bank account, so I only have the $350 cash to carry us through.
If I manage to keep it under budget through June then we'll lower the grocery budget and apply the extra money to Student Debt.

From reading all the other frugal blogs $350 a month is a lot of money to spend on the household budget. I think we could easily get ours down to $250 a month, but we are stockpiling our (new!) freezer right now and are learning along the way :)
Paul also likes to have meat at every supper - and not little bits of meat amongst other ingredients. He likes "real" meat, so we have it every day. It's not something that can be eliminated from our budget, so that expense will remain.
We also eat a ton of fresh fruit and veggies, which is another thing that we will not eliminate.
We probably eat $20-$30 of fruit and vegetables a week and $10-$20 of meat a week.
I buy some dairy, some canned beans and bread almost weekly and then occasionally oils, vinegars, jams, salad dressings etc.

I avoid the aisles in the grocery store as much as possible to avoid spending extra money :)
Between coupon-ing and CVS I have been able to get a stash of cereal, cookies, coke, Fuse, M&Ms and Chex Mix for pennies or free, and those are the items we pull out when we're feeling like junking out or have company over.

I also now keep a granola bar or two and a bottle of water in my purse to help ward off any hunger while shopping - I spend way more money when I am hungry :)

Oh, another trick I have started for "saving" money - our commissary has just opened a self checkout with a recommended maximum of 40 items. Not only is the self check out line WAY shorter and faster than regular checkout, but it is no fun with a baby and a ton of items to check out. So I use self checkout as a motivator to not buy items not already on my list :)

My goal for the month of June is to keep the grocery/household budget under $300.


Amber said...

Not sure what kind of meat you eat...or if you could find this around there....but have you ever considered buying a whole beef or pig from someone and having it butchered? This is one way to get meat for a lot less money.

Bethany said...

Hmmm... Sounds like I really need to start keeping a budget. Even if I cannot motivate my hubby to keep to it, at least I could do my best. I already keep ALL my receipts, but have stopped recording what was spent where more than a year age. I "know" you posted this for me, cause I've been pestering you for tips! I haven't been to CVS in 1 1/2 weeks, so can't say I've been getting any better. I think it's time to use the spread sheet we have on our computer.

Crystal said...

Good luck! I used to be able to do that, but not anymore. Food costs have gone up too much. We're pretty picky eaters though, and that's ok with me. :)

Fire Hunt said...

My home $ is a lot more, Need to look at our budget:)

Stacy said...

Don't feel too bad. Our grocery/toiletries budget is $250/month for the 2 of us, and we often go over. Chris likes to cook, and he likes to cook nice dishes, so we end up spending more on meat and specialty-type ingredients. I do think we could feed 4 on about this amount with a little tweaking though.

The Rock Chick said...

Oh my. My grocery bill, including toiletries, etc is close to $300 a week and I buy what I can at Aldi and you can't get cheaper than that here.

I've applied for my CVS card so I'm going to start trying that thing you do so well! I'm sure it will take me a time or two to figure it out but I'll let you know how I'm doing!

It seems right now the gasoline is the biggest budget buster. I sat down and figured it out and I spent
$844 on gas last month just getting to work, running errands and getting the kids back and forth to school and their activities and doctor's appointments. My daughter sees a therapist almost every day. That's filling my van up twice a week and hubby's car once a week. They say we have the highest gas prices in the nation. I guess I believe it.

Now THAT is insane!!!! I want to get some kind of thing I can put on the back of my bike so I can ride it to the grocery store and some of the closer errands.

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