It’s a new month which means it’s time for a new budget. Before the month begins, you should make a budget where you spend all of you income on paper. Give every dollar a purpose before your money decides its own purpose.
Jeff and I just did our budget for October. It’s going to be a lean month. I’m trying to save up money for renewal fees for the firm which are due in December. So here are the cut backs:
- I slashed the repairs and maintenance budget to zero. If something breaks, that’s what we have the emergency fund for.
- I cut the eating out budget to zero. If we want to eat out, we have to agree to do it and use our blow money.
- I cut the grocery budget to $225 (from $250). I think we can make that if I plan well. I’ll need to do a huge menu plan for the month.
- The debt snowball is a bit smaller this month but we’ll catch up in December when I will be teaching an extra class.
Did you do a budget this month? Are there any great wins? Any disappointments?
The bane of our budget the last few months has been eating out. It breaks my budget every month. Luckily, there is usually slack in my grocery budget and it all evens out, but I’d love to be able to take some of that cash and add it to my debt snowball. In order to get that budget under control, I started to look at why we were eating out.
Most of the time we were eating out because we were running errands and didn’t eat before we left the house. We’d stop for fast food or something inexpensive somewhere while running errands. Am I the only one who thinks that fast food is getting ridiculously expensive? Seven bucks for a value meal? Really? But I digress… so we were spending a lot of money because we were not prepared. Since I’ve identified this problem, we’ve either eaten before we go out or I’ll plan something quick to make when we get home.
Other times I just don’t feel like cooking something. That doesn’t happen often but it does happen. I’ve now got stuff on hand to make a ton of quick meals that either my husband or I can make. Having a meal plan helps but having back up plans, like grilled cheese or an awesome salad is a budget lifesaver. Hell, even keeping a couple boxes of mac and cheese is a cheap way to fill your tummy without breaking the bank (note to self: we are out of mac and cheese).
A few times, not very often anymore, there were foods that I just loved that I didn’t make at home. Pizza was one of those things, until I found Kristen’s recipe. I found this about two or three months ago and I think we’ve only had takeout pizza once since then. I make it every week to cut out my husband’s pizza cravings. I’ve also remembered to mix in recipes Jeff really loves, like my chicken marsala (recipe can be found on the recipe page of this site). I made it this weekend and it was a huge hit. Figuring out how to make our favorite foods has really helped us save a lot of cash. Have you tried to go out for chicken parm or chicken marsala recently? Wow, that’ll cost you. The chicken marsala I made this weekend cost us… are you ready for this? Less than $3. Not per serving but $3 total (Chicken $2.00, can of mushrooms $.25, clove of garlic $.10, half a box of pasta $.33, Marsala wine $.30, flour and seasonings were all on hand = 2.98). That’s a $40 dinner if we went out.
So if you think you are eating out too much, think about why you do it. Plan a strategy for eating out less and watch those savings pile up.
Sometimes we all have a bit of a stumble. This month, I felt like we had stumbled a bit. Why haven’t I posted a meal plan lately? Because I haven’t had one. The last few weeks have been really hectic. Last week, we had events every night from Tuesday to Sunday. This week, I haven’t been feeling well. I haven’t gone grocery shopping in about two weeks. We’ve been eating out in some respect a lot this month. Last night, we got pizza from the grocery store (way cheaper than getting delivery). I felt like we’d fallen off the frugal train.
Then I ran the numbers. Remember that I download everything into QuickBooks to match it against my budget. We are actually doing a lot better than I thought. I’m over budget on a few things this month. I’m $17 over budget on my repairs and maintenance budget (we needed weed killer and we recalked the shower in the master bedroom). I’ll take that out of my furniture replacement budget. We are $24 over budget on our entertainment budget. I’ll end up taking that out of the vacation budget.
Our food budget is actually under budget by $56. This really surprised me. I thought we were already way over budget. $56 is plenty of money to get me through the rest of the month.
The moral of the story is don’t beat yourself up before actually looking at the numbers. If you do fall of the frugal train, dust yourself off and start again next month. One of the reasons that I love my monthly budget is that I can always start over next month. Plus, since I budget for everything, even things like furniture replacement, if I go over budget on repairs and maintenance, I don’t overdraw my account. I can just reallocate money from another account. It makes me feel better to know that I have the extra money in the budget incase I need it.
To start my reform effort, I’ve got pork chops defrosting in the fridge for dinner tonight. I’m going to get all my coupons clipped from last week and from the package that my mother-in-law gave me. The store sales kinda suck this week, so I’ll take an inventory and probably head down to the PriceRite to pick up some staples for next week. If I slowly get back on the train, I’ll be fully back on the train for next week.
Have you ever had a frugal slip? How did you get yourself back in the game mentally?