Let’s face it, there is one word that can causes headaches, arguments, tension, stress, and just a feeling of complete and utter “FRUSTRATION” in each and every home. It does not discriminate. It is an equal opportunist in each and every home across the globe. There is never enough of it to go around it seems. Being the one that has to create magic, while sticking to it here, I know all about it first hand! I am not alone! Let’s face it, we all struggle with it at one time or another.
I am talking about the dreaded “B” word…
We get paid once a month. Nope, I am not joking. I have to have our budget completely figured out by the first of every month before I can pay or buy anything. One wrong calculation or missed expense, and we are in some serious trouble. I have gotten really good at doing our budget and keeping it where it needs to be. We are a family of 5.
Here is just some of the things I do to stay within our budget.
Spread Sheet or Google Doc.
Every month I put all our bills into a spreadsheet. Here is what is on ours.
- A column for bills to be paid
- A column to mark the bills as paid(I pay all our bills at the beginning of the month regardless of when their actual due date is. Remember, we get paid once a month.)
- A column for the amount paid on each bill
- A column to mark when the bill clears
- A column that adds up the bills totals
- A column for paycheck amount
- A column that minuses the bills from the paycheck
- A column that tells me what I have left for groceries and anything else I need
Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping
We eat Real Whole foods. Almost nothing is processed. I make what I can from scratch, breads, stocks, soups, condiments, etc. Before I go shopping I make a food menu for 7 days. That’s it. Only 7 days. No buying in bulk and no paper towels or paper napkins. I have found that we go through them like no tomorrow! We use wash clothes/ dish towels or fabric napkins now. As I figure out the menu, I look to see exactly what I have and what I need to make or buy for each meal. I then add those things to my grocery list. Left overs become lunches. I try to find ways to make one meal stretch into several meals. An example would be a roasted chicken. I use the bones for stock for, the meat for several different meals (casserole, quesadillas, a main dish, soup, wraps). The meals are set in stone once I start my grocery list. I have staples that I buy weekly. Fresh fruit, milk, juice, veggies. I rarely use coupons. We buy so much fresh. There usually aren’t coupons for fresh foods. I buy local any chance I get. I shop around at local farmer’s markets and orchards to see who has the better deals on what I need that week. I am loyal to my farmers markets, orchards, butcher, and poultry farm. I buys my eggs local too. I usually get great deals from them because they see me weekly. I buy seconds (fruit or veggies that are not perfect, bruised, too ripe) when I can from the farmer’s markets and orchards. We avoid processed foods. They push our budget over the top. Processed for us is noodles, crackers, tortillas.
We Listen To Our Bodies
I can not stress this enough. If we are craving something, there is a reason for it. I have found that by listening to our bodies, we stay healthier. Our immune systems are happier too! I also use essential oils and other “homeopathic” remedies instead of OTC meds. Chicken noodle soup, detox baths, and pushing fluids are just some of the things I do when someone is feeling less then healthy here. We rest when our bodies tell us too. Seriously, this means less illnesses, less doctor appointments, less meds, and less money spent in the long run.
Household Cleaners and Detergents
We make all our household cleaners using inexpensive and basic ingredients (such as vinegar, water, baking soda, and peroxide). Laundry detergent is also homemade using basic ingredients. I use homemade wool dryer balls with essential oils instead of dryer sheets or fabric softeners. This alone saves us serious money per month!
Cancel What You Don’t Need
- Satellite Service ~ We recently canceled our cable/satellite services that were costing us over $100 a month. I thought it would be a lot harder then it was. Thankfully,there is nothing that can not be found online or on DVD somewhere.
- Gym Membership ~ At just under a $100 a month for a family membership, I realized we never really went. We have more fun exercising at home with a great walk or riding a bike! Talk about wasted money for us!!
- Land Lines ~ This was another smart decision we made. With free local and long distance plans, accompanied by unlimited minutes, most cell phone companies will help you to analyze your usage, to see what plans will work the best for you. We ditched our land line and have never looked back.
- Credit Cards ~ Here was a tough one for us. We like probably so many people in the world were in serious debit to the plastic cards. We were paying for it every month! Enough was enough for us. We climbed out of debt and discarded almost all of them. We now have 3. That is more than enough for us!
So there you have it….Just some of the things we do here to keep within our budget.