Wednesday, January 9, 2013

my favorite topic: budgeting

I have freely admitted here that I am BAD with money.  Always have been.  I am trying not to be, but it is hard.  Mostly because of that darn Discover card. 

When my husband and I got married I was very up front with him regarding my history with money.  It is a checkered past, very checkered.  I told him that it would be wise for me to continue to operate on a cash basis, which I had done for the year or so before we met.  Cash is hard to create out of thin air.  You have it or you don't.  I was not opposed to rewards, I just used a debit card with rewards, NOT a credit card. 

I did not win that argument initially.  But in December we decided that for the items I am in charge of purchasing we would go to a cash basis.  I told him that was the WORST month to start a cash budget in.  We always host x-mas dinner, and this year that was 13 people.  There are gifts left to buy (only a few really), more driving, thus more fuel needed and various other things to contribute to.  It was difficult.  I really struggled.  At the end of the month though I think I was only over budget by $150.  Not too bad for the first go 'round. 

While figuring all this out, he and I decided that a weekly, instead of monthly, allotment would be better.  I had a monthly figure last year and it was half spent by the first seven days of the month.  Not good.

So far the weekly amount is working.  I have to plan more.  For instance, I have to know when I am going to need fuel, because I can't just go pop the credit card in the slot and not think about it.  I have also been moving us to a more organic/fair trade diet.  Not as expensive as you might think.  Despite all of the "special" food allergy food I have to buy I think this is doable, but I have to plan.

Instead of going to the store 2-3 times a week I am trying to only go once.  I can't go that often with little l, she is at the throwing fits in stores stage.  The hardest part is getting my hubby on board with this.  He is not always good at planning his food needs. 

There are four stores I frequent:

Costco:  They have lots of organic veggies.  At least the basics.  They also have organic egg whites which I need for my diet.  We buy a lot of frozen organic fruit there as well. 

Whole Foods:  My first love grocery store wise.  I would only shop there if they had the best deals.  However, they have the biggest selection of organic fruits and veggies, and that makes it my go to store for apples, celery (it actually has green tops instead of brown like another store I go to), meat, and when I am done with my diet, bulk items.  They carry all of the special items I need for big L too.  Including rice milk chocolate bars (a necessity when making smores with Girl Scouts). 

Safeway:  This is my in town store.  The other two involve a 30+ mile round trip, and I only go to them bi-weekly, and I try to coordinate the trips with another reason to be out that direction.  We don't have any nice natural food stores in town.  I was using one, but they don't have produce and they started raising their prices too high.  It was worth driving to get items, rather than be overcharged.  I mostly by milk and bananas here, plus gift cards for Target, so I can earn gas rewards.

Target:  Baby food.  They carry the brand l likes, and when they are on sale it is a decent deal.  They also have all the other household stuff I use.  My favorite cleaners are Method, so it makes it easy to pick up family prescriptions (love their color coded bottles, we are all on some of the same meds) and any necessities.  Plus, they have a small grocery section if I am totally out of something. 

I am trying really hard to stick with my budget, and I am hoping that for once in my life it will work.  I have even made a savings pledge.  In order to redecorate my bedroom I will have to save money from my weekly budget.   I have also decided I should put away a little from the child support, not much (it is not a big amount), but enough to not want to cry in three years when big L needs braces!

Now, if I could just consistently plan menus for the week.........or maybe that one should be done monthly. 

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