Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tightening the belt loops

Lately our budget has been on our mind.  Last year when we moved from Colorado to Maryland, we went from a two person income to a one person income.  We thought it would be simple, because we also went to two households to one.  Generally speaking you'd think that would be a simple adjustment and that money would be fine.

Well, it wasn't.

Initially when we moved, we enjoyed living together again under one roof.  We went to Niagara Falls for our tenth wedding anniversary.  We weren't frivolous with our money, but we weren't exactly careful either.  Around August, I told my husband we needed to cut back a little.  We were depleting our savings, and that made me nervous.  Then it hit us.  A $1,500 car repair to get the car licensed in Maryland.  Our tenants in our old house called, the air conditioning wasn't working...luckily it didn't need to be replaced, but that was another $900.  Then the wham-o.  My car started making a horrible racket.  That was $2500.  Then my husband's car again.  Luckily that was only $500, because we refused to get the other $3,500 of work done.  Bottom line, he needs a new car.

So here's what we've done so far to tackle this budget problem:

  1. Food Budget:  We have set a strict $120 a week for food.  We use cash at the grocery store, and when we're out, we're out.  We typically set a meal plan and buy all our food on Sunday.  We go through what's on sale at our normal grocery store, and consider getting what they are offering on our weekly sales.  This is additionally hard now that we're strict primal.  We eat a lot of meat, and we used to get strictly organic meat.  Not right now.  It's not in the budget.  Neither is eating out.
  2. We've trimmed back our cell phones.  It wasn't much savings, but it boiled down to roughly $30 off our cell phone bill.
  3. We're only using our credit card for gasoline or absolutely necessary online purchases, AND we're paying it off every month no matter what.  Honestly, we've always tried to pay off our one and only credit card every month...but this will make it easier.  It's our goal to bring our bill down to less than $1000 a month.  It hovered between $2,300-$3,000 a month before.
  4. We've pulled our kids out of swim class.  This was a hard one.  They have a wonderful teacher, and the classes are one on one.  They have done so well, it was a heart breaking decision for us.  The good part is, we can sign them back up when life has gotten back to normal.  That's going to save us roughly $150 a month.
  5. Not going places unless it's a planned trip, and completely necessary.  My husband's car is on it's last legs.  He only drives it to work and home.  There are days when I don't go out at all, and since I homeschool my kids we keep busy at home with our school activities.
  6. Offset the cost of heating oil by keeping a fire in our wood stove going.  Heating oil is expensive.  Serious sticker shock this fall when it cost us $900 to fill the tank.  Holy cow, I should have listed that in our scary expenses up top.  I keep our heat low, and our family room toasty with a nice fire.  I went in with my neighbor a few months ago and split two cords of wood with him.  My cord will likely be gone by the end of the winter.
What do you do to save a few?

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