Monday, January 5, 2009
My Budget Adventure
Hi, I'm Vanessa, a.k.a. Vana. My family and I will be on a $3600 budget for 2010.
2. Pet supplies and food
3. All health (over-the-counter) and beauty items (including diapers baby #2 is due in April & #1 still doesn't want to use the potty).
4. Cleaning supplies, paper and plastics
5. Newspaper (to get coupons), and coupons from on-line sources
What isn't included:
1. Eating out. I would love to include this, but I tried it last year and my husband doesn't want to "play." He wants to be able to go out to a steakhouse and not have me stressing about how it's blowing my monthly budget for food.
2. Gas--I consider this a completely separate expense. And with such volitile gas prices, I'm not going to try to incorporate this into the $3600 budget.
3. Prescription meds, doctor's co-pays, expenses. These are neccessary medical expenses and will also have their own budget, separate for this project.
4. Other Bills: mortgage, utilities, automobile expenses.
This may seem like a lot to some, but even after coupons, I almost always have an out of pocket expense (7% food tax and 9.25% sales tax, no state income tax though).
A little over a year ago my husband and I were spending $600-$800 a month (yes, that's $7,200-$9600 annually) on groceries, eating out, pet supplies, cleaning and HBA for two adults, a baby (November 2007), a dog, and a cat! During 2008 I was able to cut that in half, actually more by the end of the year. I learned to shop sales and combine store coupons, manufacturer coupons, as well as, catalinas (RRs, ECBs, et cetra) to reduce my out of pocket as much as possible. I have not been a big refunder. This is something I will have to pick up if I am going to meet my goal for 2009.
How I'm going to do it:
I have a small stockpile of certain items and a rather large stockpile of others (my husband won't need deodorant for at least another year). I am at the point where I will still need to purchase many items, but I am fortunate enough to generally be able to purchase items only when they are on sale and I can combine more than one deal to get items for free or very close to free.
I am lucky that one of my wedding gifts was a deep freezer. It is a great tool to saving money on food. I am able to buy meat at rock bottom prices and freeze it. I'm always looking for the manager's special tags at Kroger b/c they are generally a great deal and the meat is fine as long as it's frozen until we're ready to use it! I also use the deep freezer to stock pile veggies and other deals I get on frozen foods. I find that with sales and coupons, we can get tons of great deals on frozen vegetables.
Garden. I'm not especially skilled at gardening. But, I do plan on planting a few vegetables come spring. Most likely tomatoes and a few other items that we eat frequently.
Couponing. I'm really into couponing. I use numerous websites to help me find the best deals so I can buy when I want to rather than when I have to!
Pay attention to sales cycles. There are sales cycles. Until last year, I had never even considered this...But, it's true and it's a great thing to use to your advantage. Certain items on sale at certain times and that when it's best to use coupons to stock up on the items. Example, last summer there were tons of deals on hotdogs and lots of coupons to make the deals even better. I only bought about 4 packages (and froze them) because we rarely eat hotdogs (or so I thought); they were all gone within a couple months and now I'm not willing to pay full price. So, next summer I will be stocking up on hotdogs. And this time, I'm going to make sure I get enough FREE or cheap hotdogs to last my family at least 12 months.
I know some people who do an annual budget divide the money into envelopes or put money into a separate account. But since we plan on reconciling our budget monthly, like a busines would do their P&L statement, I will be keeping track of my purchases in an excel spreadsheet--hopefully, this will make my month-end process easier.