Monday, August 12, 2013

Month 1: Reworking the household budget

Last month I had Hubs sit down with me.  I reported that according to our credit card statement, we were bleeding money.  I could see a couple of glaring things that both of us could stand to change.

1.  Hubs was given a $20 bill and told that was his used CD allowance for the month.  $20 was the agreed upon limit a while ago.  Somehow, the Discover card reveals that $20 was not what he spent.  I told him that I didn't want to see The Exchange, Buy Backs, Best Buy or any other type of CD retailer on our credit card.  $20 was the limit-- including tax.  He agreed and said that if he wanted to purchase more, he would trade some of his old CD's.  He has traded old CD's the last two months.

2.  I agreed that though it is a seasonal addiction, I would NOT participate in any school supply sales unless it was something that I didn't have an K required for school - on the actual list.  People drink.  I find a new box of crayons intoxicating.  :deep breath:  How much I love new school supplies!  At any rate, I did as I agreed.  In fact, K required a zipper pouch for her school supplies.  She made one with Miss L during sewing lessons and all it cost was the $2.50 for the zipper.  Since then, we made a few pencil organizing pouches to go inside of the zipper pouch.  I told her that to corral the colored pencils and to keep the regular pencils separate, the little pouches would be good.  It would keep her from always grabbing a colored pencil when an actual pencil was needed.  I even made a pouch for the crayons.  (I know.)  The box to the crayons was sliced by a box cutter and wouldn't last.  Now the box is in a velcro pouch and all she has to do is open up and they are in there.  I cut the box top and the tab off.  It is quite lovely.

3.  The weather has been kind and we have left the air off.

4.  Watering plants has been done with the rain barrel water only.

5.  We've tried on all of K's school clothes from last year, used the parts that are reusable (which are actually a lot) and ordered a minimal number of shirts.  I scored a huge pile of new shirts (with tags!) at the uniform swap at our church, but those are for next year.  We're good to go for school.

6.  The most glaring thing on our statement was the number of times the grocery was visited in a month.  I cut Hubs off.  I realize that it was like ripping a giant bandaid off of a scab.  Oh, it hurt him when I did that, but Walm*art would appear on the statement 3-4x each week with purchases totaling $25-40.  All he went for was bananas!  We have, as a family project, worked hard to go to the grocery only once a week.  Everyone tells me the needs and I am the one to do the shopping.  I have been hanging out at the local discount store and we've been getting roughly the same types of things.  I do watch regular ads, but most of the time, there's nothing that I can use.  We eat healthy and frankly- that isn't cheap!  We found that Starkist has sadly decided to discontinue the size of tuna pouch Hubs eats, so we've been gathering those.  It was out of the grocery budget and he even told me, "I know it was hard for you to spend over what we said, but I thank you!"  We have stock piled his tuna.  We're good for a while.

7.  We have not eaten out at all.  Nothing.  Not one morsel.  We're never big on it anyhow, but a drive thru a few times a month still counts.  (Out shopping, hungry . . . you know the deal.)  I traded my Morningstar veggie burgers for homemade.  I made 28 patties of two different varieties and spent $5 or less for what would have cost $26. or so.  We baked banana oatmeal cookies for K's lunch.  (We all loved them!)  We truly try to watch and use leftovers.

8.  Hubs makes one run to Sam's Club and has kept that bill to $100 or just hovering there.  This past month added a few school foods-- Gogurt, mozzarella cheese sticks and Clif Kids bars.  That helped the cost to shoot over $100 but he's been very good about watching it.

9.  For the bathroom spiff, we've reused hardware and just repainted.  Works for us.  That stuff is expensive!  Right now, the medicine cabinet has been spray painted and I'm hoping to move it into the shed before rains come.  It's solid, but needed some love.  Spray paint to the rescue!

10.  I've stayed away from walking all through Target when all I need is just a few things.  Chickadees (Goldfish) and Annie's Organics Mac & Cheese are Target staples for us.  Just like a car on auto drive, I can go to them and right back out.

11.  We changed our insurance company and have saved a bundle. In fact, the renewal for insurance company A came in and I compared it with company B that we will be switching to.  The same insurance (with basement back-up added to the house) will save us $1277 per year.  The renewals came in with some significant increases.  That saves $106.41 per month and will certainly help towards that nasty water bill that we expect in the near future.

12.  My Lipitor card was renewed  so now I'm back to a $4 copay.  That's better than the $25 it went to.  About 9 months after its issue, I think it maxes out and rolls to my normal insurance copay.  Thank goodness for that card!  Thank goodness for both!

We're working it.  In just one month, it has made a significant difference.  We'll report our findings next month to see if we could see something else that we could squeeze a little.  For this month, we expect expenses to include the plumber, purchase of the surround for the tub and two license plates, please!


Rach said...

It's the nickeling and dimeing that kill us. Folks don't realize all those little $0.50 and $1 items add up...

Way to go on your thriftiness! :o)

ChupieandJ'smama (Janeen) said...

Good for you! I'm trying to do the same. It's not easy but we really need to see where the money is going. Grocery is a big one. And my Amazon Subscribe and Save items were getting out of hand. I'm truly trying on the groceries. And I've put the subscribe and save items on hold. Now I need to stop needless items. I do that. I need to use up what I have and stop stock piling 10 laundry detergents (and it's not like I get them from massive couponing... I'm just stockpiling)