A couple of months ago I confessed that I was revamping the way I buy groceries. It has been really hard to do this, because it is so easy to buy cheap stuff, but it's not stuff that I want my kids to be eating. Unfortunately, about the same time we decided we wanted to spend more money on groceries, I lost my job. We've talked and tweaked and discussed and modified and we're working hard to make a budget that works for us. These are the things we've decided from all this gabbing we've done:
- We want to pay more attention to the foods we are buying instead of the money we are spending
- We don't want to spend more than we are making
- We want to get out of debt
- We want to buy local
- We want to be able to have some "fun" money and not feel guilty for splurging every so often
- We want to be happy with what we have and make sure our kids are healthy and happy
- We want to remember that no matter our circumstances, we're relying on God to provide for us
If this is something you are interested in, this is the budget template I downloaded from Faithful Provisions. I won't disclose every little financial detail of our budget, but I do want to show you some of our findings.
I predicted that I would earn $75 from mystery shopping. I was happy to see my actual income from this was $95.92.
I predicted that I would earn $20 from surveys and rebate checks. I was happy to see my actual income from this was $29.96.
I predicted that I would earn $10 from miscellaneous income (selling household items, etc.). I was happy to see my actual income from this was $23.53.
Now, on to the spending portion. Some of the budget was very cut and dry. We tithe based on our monthly income, and we have several "set" bills. Our mortgage, power bill, cable/telephone/internet, security system, gym membership, and World Vision donation are the same every month.
This month we budgeted $200 for groceries. We spent around $250 last month, so I set the goal of taking $50 off of that. We were able to stay just under that goal, spending $197.13 on groceries.
We budgeted $100 for eating out as a family. We normally wouldn't eat out that much but we had family coming in town and didn't know what would come up. We ended up spending just $81.25. We ate out once with my family for an anniversary dinner, and at the end of the month we ate cupcakes at C Cups Cakery for a splurge one Saturday.
We budgeted $50 for Stephen to eat out, and he spent $51 on it. But he is setting a goal of not eating out for the entire month of April. He is saving his money to get a different wedding band. We will see how this works out - haha!!
Last month we spent over $600 on gas and we were hoping to take that down to $500. Unfortunately, we couldn't, and we spent $684 on gas. Hopefully as the weather gets nicer, Stephen will be riding his motorcycle more and we will be spending less on gas. Also, in the next couple of months school will be out so we will be traveling less as well.
We had a lot of miscellaneous expenses this month but not as expensive as last month! Last month we spent about $800 in those types of expenses. This month it was $160, which included things like shipping things at the post office, ebay expenses, haircuts for Stephen, craft supplies, items for the kids' Easter baskets, and little things like that.
We were able to take some shortcuts in some areas, though, to save money, as usual. I had purchases for my secret sister already stashed away so I only spent $1 on her present. We didn't have any birthday parties to attend, just family members who got cards. (Sorry family members who just got cards!) Hunter suddenly outgrew almost all his shoes and I got him a stylin' pair of sandals for $2 from a thrift store. I also snagged a pair of shoes for myself for just $3 that looked as good as new!
We did spend a ton of money on diapers this month. There was a great deal at Rite Aid, so even though I already had a stockpile of diapers I bought them. Even though Hunter wears cloth diapers around here, we go through them like crazy when he's at church, or when Stephen is watching him (dislike of the changing of the cloth diapers by Daddy!) or when someone other than me is keeping Hunter. I spent $70 on diapers and pull-ups, but then just a few days later, Brianna, our 2-year old, decided to sleep in underwear instead of pull-ups. Thus begins the start of saving money on diapers!! Hopefully that number will drop drastically now that we're only buying diapers for one kid.
We also used some of our tax return money to put quite a large amount of money on the credit card payment, and also paid for a new riding lawn mower which we desperately needed! The rest of the return money went into two different savings accounts and each of the kids' college savings accounts. Hopefully we won't have to touch the rest of that money for quite a while.
I would love to hear any feedback you have for us - tips, support, what you do, etc. Although I would like to say, you don't need to direct me to any links concerning Dave Ramsey or Clark Howard. I adore both of these men, but we are planning our budget based on what works best for us. I do appreciate any other personal advice though!