Two things I am not.
1.) A tip blogger. Not because I'm against it, but because I utilize the tried and true and am not innovative enough to think of new things.
2.) A frugal blogger. Not because I don't try to be frugal, but because I don't feel like I really have anything to share.
Bearing those things in mind, this post contains tips for a how to project, and a frugal adventure/challenge for myself.
There are about eleventy-gajillion different ways to keep track of your expenses. From the check book register (which I quit using about, oh, four days after I opened my first checking account) to iPhone apps, and all manner of things in between. Living on one income and having a largish family have really tested me in the area of making and sticking to a budget. I can't even begin to count the number of failures I have had, searching for the one answer that suits our family.
Of course, we all know the answer is discipline. I can spell it really well, but being a living definition is kinda kicking my tail. Just getting that out there so none of us are in the dark.
I think the hard thing about sticking to these budgets for me is how much of a cashless society we live in. Checks, debit cards, credit cards. You don't need cash to make a purchase, and I kept finding out when I went to balance the budget (when it's already too late!) that I had overspent in one category and had to essentially steal from another category.
Finally, it hit me. Just convert it all to cash. Go by the ATM, pull out the amount of money set aside for groceries, go to grocery store. By not using plastic or even checks, I am majorly cutting into my spending power.
Because I like systems and organization, I really thought about purchasing one of these, but it flew in the face of my struggling inner-frugalista. I was just sure I could come up with something that would be just as effective and cost less.
It was a very short search that lead me to this tutorial. I love pretty papers and projects like this, and had all the supplies on hand. I was incredibly pleased with myself when I turned out the finished project in less that an hour. Okay, fine, four hours. But I crammed a lot of kid chasing, meal making, laundry, and Adult Conversation in those four hours, too. So you do the math of the reality of how long it may have taken. I am thinking an hour, but who's counting?
And I have these little lovelies to show for it:
And some folded laundry.
Joshua and I have tossed about taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University for a few years now. Our church offers it every summer. However, we have always opted to take one of the other classes on the menu. This year, we are definitely going to be sitting in the Financial Peace class. Our family isn't getting any younger, and habits aren't going to get any easier to change. I am super excited about the class, really, and have been reading as Simple Mom outlines the Baby Steps.
So, here's to an answer that is working quite well for us so far. One of the things I have already learned is that my budget categories were entirely too broad, so I am shuffling around and re-examining things. I intend to keep this up for a period of three months and then review our progress and learned lessons. Be sure to come back for the next exciting installment in May.
Of course, I do hope you'll visit often in the weeks to come, too.
What are some thing you are doing to help stretch or better manage those hard earned dollars??