Ugh…Can I just be honest and say that I don’t do this well!? If we need to save, we certainly can focus and make it happen, but other than that we get a feel for what we can afford and just live that lifestyle. We don’t live lavishly. We don’t WANT much. When we do want something we typically get it, because it’s not commonplace for us to spend money on a lot of things. Our weakness is eating out. Our strengths are planning and paying for things upfront if at all possible. I like to alleviate as much of the day to day budgeting requirements as possible, by thinking long term and being consistent. Here are some things that we do for our finances:
1. Meal planning: On our good days, we create a weekly meal plan. We make our grocery list based on that meal plan and we eat in! We cook, have leftovers, and save a lot by doing so. We get into ruts, however, where we get tired or think we don’t have time to do our weekly planning- this is when we start spending too much. It is our number one weakness! Eating out seems to be a minimum of $30 for the family unless you go fast food. When we cook, we save. It is always our goal to do better on this.
2. Bills: I like to do 2 things with our bills.
- We pay for things upfront. If we have to make a large purchase, we only buy it if we have the money. We don’t finance these items, we just pay for them (aside from our mortgage or cars LOL). But you get what I mean- if we have to buy a refrigerator, we buy it and pay for it all upfront. If we can’t afford it, we don’t buy it or we get something less expensive.
- Eliminate bills. We like to pay extra on our bills when we can, so that they disappear as soon as possible. I had a car payment that was over $300/month. We traded that car in and got an amazing deal on a newer car. The new payment was only $150/month. Guess what? We still made the old payment of $300+. As a result, we are almost done with the payment a couple of years later. This will soon mean an extra 300 dollars each month!
3. Savings: A great way to save is to never see that you have the money in the first place! We set up automatic payments to our savings account, retirement plans, and into Caroline’s college fund. We never see that we have it in our checking account to spend- the accounts just grow.
4. Shop around: With online purchasing at our fingertips, it is so easy to find the lowest price for something. We use amazon for pretty much everything and find great deals! We spend less for things that we would in the retail store, and we get free shipping due to our amazon prime membership (which was totally worth the money). Not to mention we still get things in 2 days!
5. Coupons: I only use coupons that are readily available and don’t take too much time to find. I tried to find coupons to print and realized it was usually a waste of my time (for what I was saving). But, if coupons can be automatically delivered or expected, I use them! Grocery stores have coupons on their apps, and our grocery store sends out paper coupons when you sign up for the store card (free). So we take advantage of this every month!
6. Credit cards: Use one! I know this sounds backwards, but credit cards give you rewards and even cash. We use our 1 credit card for EVERY purchase. We just pay it off each month so we aren’t paying any interest. We should probably monitor this more closely, but we have a feel for the lifestyle we can afford to live. We typically stay within those limits and are always able to pay off our credit card at the end of the month.
We do not live our lives around budgeting, and we could definitely be saving more than we do. It’s a looming goal for sure! In the meantime, though, I take comfort in the fact that we’ve done a great job planning ahead and paving the road for our success in the future. This past year hasn’t been full of savings (with me now as a stay at home mom), but we are fitting into our new lifestyle and making things work.
I have also decided to add in a couple of side jobs which have been very helpful!
If anyone is interested to know more, please feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected]. I have a couple of blogging jobs (outside of my personal blog), and I am now an Usborne Book’s and More Educational Consultant. My new Usborne adventure has been amazing! I’d love to share more about my experiences with this company if anyone is interested.
Today is Pinterest Day for the Babywise Friendly Blog Network and the ladies in the group are covering anything to do with budgeting and finances. Be sure and check out our Pinterest Page and check out the other posts today!
Emily- The Journey of Parenthood
Stephanie- Giving it Grace
Kimberly- Team Cartwright