Made It To May!

Whew!


Sometimes there's just way more month than there is money, ya know?  

It was a week and a half ago that I went to the store for milk and fresh fruit...and I paid with the last of the cash in my wallet.  I hate it when I spend the last of the cash in my wallet.  Even though I know that we're not *broke* and that we have money set aside for any emergencies that might pop up...getting to the last of the cash in my wallet still brings on a little prick of panic.  What?  We're OUT?  Already?!

Back in the day (you know the day...the day when we had way more money than brains...and no kids) we'd just spend money without thinking about it.  We'd keep track of what we spent, but only because we're both totally OCD about data and spreadsheets and such things - not because we were trying to actually watch what we spent.  We put everything on the Visa...for the airline miles.  Yeah, I know.  At least we paid it off in full each month.  I guess there were a few brains still in there.

Our financial life has changed dramatically since the days of trying to decide what to do with all the extra money we had left at the end of the month.  Dang - seems like a million years ago and many "what, we're out already?"s since those days!  It's the kids, I'm telling you.  We go through 5 gallons of milk a WEEK.  That's about $50 a month in milk alone!

Good thing they're so cute, or  I might have to send them back ;-)

We're not experts in this new and scary financial world, but there are a few things that really seem to help us watch those slippery pennies.  

1.  I do a monthly meal list.  It's not so much a plan, since I don't think about what I'm going to make each day.  I simply make a list of 10-12 meals, and then I make sure that I have the groceries necessary to make them.  When it comes time to make dinner, I check the list, figure out how much time and energy I have, and choose one.  It feels really good to know that I have what I need.  Between the planned meals, the occasional pancakes for dinner meals, and left-overs we're covered for meals with just those 10 or 12 planned.

2.  We use a cash-only system.  We figured out how much we needed for each category of spending (those years of spreadsheets came in handy), and we pull all of that money out of the bank in cash at the beginning of the month.  When we buy something, we pay in cash.  Period.  If the cash is gone, we wait.  I know...boo hoo for us.  The only thing we use a credit card for is gasoline, and we pay that bill in full each month.

I'd love to be better at the coupon thing.  A friend just recently sent me a link to a local blogger who keeps track of all the local deals and coupons available and alerts her readers to killer deals.  I'll keep an eye on that.  I tried the Coupon Sense thing for a while, but after paying for the newspapers and the membership...not to mention dreading organizing all those coupons and shopping at like 5 stores every week to get the deals...I was exhausted and not saving all that much.  I also found that many of the coupons are for junk food and/or still more expensive than a comparable store brand.   

How about you guys?  Do you have a method for staying on track and making ends meet? 

Mel  – (5/01/2009 01:18:00 PM)  

i try try try to stick to my budget, i do better with having to use my bank card for stuff because it forces me to write down what i am spending as opposed to cash and i love coupons!!! but only cut out the ones i know i will use.

Kim  – (5/02/2009 06:10:00 AM)  

I use coupons or store brands whenever possible. Because I want to remain a stay-at-home mom, I joined a business that saves me money on what I already purchase as well as earn money for what my friends and family already do - but buy through me, plus I get an advertising override. I never pay full price on anything I can avoid. CVS and Wal-Green shopping is an additional money saver.

deborah  – (5/05/2009 10:28:00 AM)  

We do the cash system also and I LOVE it. I would do no other way now.

My kids all know how it works and they don't make a fuss if we run out of money because I remind them of other choices that we made earlier in the week/month.

It works well for us all. Love your site...it's great!

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