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Monday, June 30, 2008

Cash budget.

Alright, we are officially to the end of our first month trying the cash budget for the first time, so I thought I'd analyze and share how we did. Overall I think it went okay. We definitely have room for improvement but it was a good start, at least.

We have two of these expandable folders (from Target): one for everyday spending type things (groceries, diapers, household items, etc), and a second one for larger money categories like (auto maintenance, furniture, doctor, vacation, gifts, etc)The nice thing about these folders is that I can slip some coupons in there too! I don't have many coupons so it works. The cash system is a little tricky when you buy more than one cateogory at a time (i.e. a pack of diaper wipes with the groceries) but most of the time it worked fine to make change with myself and get it balanced back out once I left the store. No biggy.

We did a lot of borrowing from categories when we wanted "treats" and were already out of that money. So the biggest thing we need to practice is self-control and discipline. It helped when I thought about things that would be coming up. For example, I was very tempted to steal from "child clothing" category because the kids didn't need any more clothes for the month, but then I remembered that we have a wedding coming up in the fall and I'll need to either buy or rent a little tux for Eli since he's ring bearer. I have no idea how much that'll cost so we need to plan ahead now. So we just need to remind ourselves WHY we're saving and that'll help make it easier. The electric bill was way down again this month so I was able to redistribute the extra money to some of the categories that didn't seem to have enough. We'll probably have to keep flexing it a little every month, according to what's going on in our lives. So with a few tweaks here and there, I'm anxious to start Month 2! Especially since today is Monday and I need grocery money but have to wait until tomorrow! haha

Ways we're trying to save:
* I'm NOT a big fan of washcloths. We tend to use them too long until they smell horrible, and then every time you even touch it your hands smell too. BUT we're trying to go back to them so we hardly ever use paper towels any more. So that'll make an $8 pack of paper towels last waaay longer!

* Since we have to take the trash out almost every single day anyway, we're just putting dirty diapers in the regular trash instead of diaper pail. And if it's a poop diaper, I put it in a Walmart sack first, since we have a thousand of them.

* I've rediscovered tuna. It had been sooo long since I had bought tuna ever, but this week I thought--hey, I'll get some Kevin for his lunches. It's been awhile, and I know he likes it. And at less than $1 a can, that makes a cheap meal! Not sure how regular lywe can do tuna though, because Kevin doesn't care for casseroles. But for this week, it was a nice change!

* The hardest area to keep under control is eating out. It's our main source of entertainment, even if it's just quick lunches that we bring back home. So I talked to Kevin about maybe making meals more fun every now and then--doing picnics or grilling at the park or something--and he said that the appeal for him for eating out was that there's no cleanup. Sooo... I thought maybe we could start having one night a week or something where we eat super easy meal with paper plates. Something that won't require pots and pans and all this silverware, or at least something I can prepare earlier in the day, and we can give ourselves a day off from all the dishes. I'll have to be a little creative about it, but it's something I want to at least try for the coming month.

So what are your secrets to saving money here and there??


Sharon said...

We found the first month to be the hardest, too.

Our biggest thing for saving money right now is meal planning, which I know you already do.
Aside from that, seriously, was going down to one car. We truly don't need a 2nd car right now, and it's much more manageable to do than most expect. (let me add that when we went down to one care, we were not close to dh's work. He helped by finding a carpool)
We save on gas and insurance, and it's been fine for us for over 2 years now.

Good Luck!

Darla said...

We do the "disposable meal" thing once a week, or every other week. For example I will buy nice rolls, pre-made chicken salad, and icecream bars...or whatever, just things that are 'self-contained' so no cooking is involved, and they are yummy, and much cheaper than eating out, even though it's a little more than I would normally spend on a meal. Then we eat on paper and there is nothing to clean. I love these on a Wed night just before church when it's crazy.
I have a few things I have started to do...I've been making my own wipes for about a year now (huge $ saver!) and this month I will make my own laundry detergent, so we'll see how that goes. Just trying to save where I can, and it's fun!

Darla said...

oh, and if you have a Burlington Coat Factory/Baby Depot in your area check that out for little tuxes, they have lots of selection at the one here. I got Brooks' there for $20!

BP said...

It sounds like you are off to a good start.

We've been doing TMM since the beginning of the year. It is so exciting because next time he gets paid in two weeks we'll have the truck paid off. It really does help to have the cash and envelope system.

When I started I realized there were some extras so I just made an extra fund for us. Each pay period it gets $20. We use that for fun stuff like stopping for ice cream or going to do something as a family and then I don't feel guilty using up another fund.

Keep up the good work!

Julie said...

Thanks for posting this, Sarah! It helps a lot!

You already know almost everything we do to save money around the house so I can't really add anything!

~Hope you are having a good week!

Sharon said...

Making your own baby wipes...I've been hearing more & more of that, lately. I'm interested.

Darla, do you have the recipe?

Mindy said...

Looks like you are off to a great start!
I do the Menu Planning and we *try* to eat out only once a week. Also, I've cut back on paper towel usage also.
Another thing I am working on (maybe working up to since we've just moved) is maybe using cloth napkins more than paper ones. That could save some $ too.

Tracy said...

Wow! I've been listening to Dave on the radio and have read TMM...neat to read about someone getting started and making it work...I'm inspired! We're pretty frugal at our house already, but were looking to Dave to help us plan paying off our debts more quickly. My favorite way of saving money is buying clothes from local thrift stores. We have some great ones nearby. You can't believe what you can get! A couple of weeks ago, I spent $12.00 and got 2 prs of dress pants (Liz Claiborne), 2 summer sweater tops (one of which was a Liz Claiborne), one pair of Bandolino casual shoes (still with original store tags). The clothing was literally in like new condition. Hard to beat that!

Looking forward to checking back on your progress in Month 2!

Thanks! Happy 4th!

Anonymous said...

Keep homemade hamburgers and bags of french fries for a quick, easy meal. It stops us from hitting BK or McD's and it's healthier than that stuff. We walk in the door, preheat the oven, and throw the burgers on the George Foreman (gift). Slice up some fresh apples to go along. Clean up is only the grill and baking sheet. Kids love it. We buy burger in bulk and spend about an hour and get meatballs, burgers, and meatloaf put up in the freezer; they all dirty the same equipment so it's even better from the clean-up perspective.

Some dishes can be had two times in a week. For example, I might put a quart of applesauce in a nice lidded bowl on Monday. We have it with that meal, the lid snaps back on (no clean-up), and it comes back out of the fridge on Wednesday, etc. Monday could be the easy night.

You can store leftover servings in foil such as potato and meat. The single serving lets them heat faster in the oven or crockpot and then pitch the "container." Don't forget, we save money by using up all the last bits of food. We wouldn't throw $$$$ away! "Smorgasbord" night is looked forward to around here.

Eng. muffin, egg, cheese, sausage, or some sort of breakfast assortment sandwhich can be wrapped in foil and heated when needed. Melty-mmmm....

Of course, stay healthy! Isn't that what makes this tough? I've really been trying to find frozen ground turkey recipes that are good (99 cents a pound!!!) Cheap and often healthier. We like types of turkey sausages, too.

Our son must be wheat, egg, bean, nut, peanut, and banana free. This has really disallowed some the traditional grocery budget savers for us. Lots of brown rice and healthily fixed potatoes for us. The allergen free health store food costs an arm and a leg!

Somewhat dated books that are great: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Across the board conserving. Am I the 1000th person to recommend this?!)
Miserly Meals (This is good reading on how we American eat WAY too much protein and how to get a healthier, less-expensive dinner plate. It helps a woman feel good about controlling meat portions.)

Turn out lights, inch up the thermostat, dry kitchen towels in the beautiful sunshine or a drying rack....hundreds of things. I get a little tired of all the media panic these days. We are strong people and God is in control. We can do this!

"There are a few things you can do to save a thousand dollars. There are thousands of things you can do to save a few dollars." Unknown