Life has been swirling by me at a seemingly alarming rate the past few weeks. I promised a couple updates, and I've decided that it's time I delivered on at least one of them.
The Crafty Mom's Budget Experience:
Budgeting is going . . . what I will call "well". Avoiding annoying and unplanned costs is not going so well. I've been quite successful at tracking our costs and staying within our allotted dollar amounts. I enjoy finding little ways to save money every day. I'm much more selective in my shopping and never purchase anything anymore without carefully thinking about whether or not we need it. Meticulous thought goes into each dollar I hand over across a counter as I pay for goods and services . . . a practice I am choosing to use more and more lately as it really does limit my spending. When I have my debit or credit card available, it is far easier to spend more, without thinking enough about it. I take out enough cash for two weeks, and I make sure not to spend more than I have tucked away in my wallet.
Trying to save money from our fixed costs is proving tricky. Many of our bills are difficult to reduce, considering I feel we are already efficient in the way we use a lot of amenities already. For example, we don't use our dryer to dry clothes from April to October, I dry everything outside on the line. And although we use a lot of water because we are a big family, we don't waste water at all. We have quick showers and we don't leave water running from the tap. We turn lights off. We don't use our air conditioning very often, and we don't leave things plugged in when they're not in use. Our largest bill is our cable bill because that includes our home phone, cell phones, cable TV and high-speed internet. We have scaled back our cable a bit, but we see it as a cost that is important to us for entertainment. We don't go out or have any other entertainment costs at this point in our lives (sad, but true, although I'm confident this will change as the Three Things mature slightly and leaving them becomes easier), so we enjoy watching television, seeing movies and viewing our favourite sports in high definition. Our cell phones are bare bones service, and we've discussed canceling at least one of them, but haven't yet for fear of that "one time" we will really be in urgent need of reaching each other via cell phone.
While there is very little I can do about gas prices, the one variable I can change is how much I drive. We drive less. Plain and simple, I don't go out with the Things as much as I used to and we stay home a lot more and play in and about our own neighbourhood. We are very fortunate to have a totally awesome park across the street from us.
Our new healthy eating lifestyle is definitely easing the pressure on the purse strings as well. I worried that increasing the amount of organic food we buy would force us into a higher grocery budget, but on the contrary we are more careful with what we eat and we waste nothing. We use it all, no matter how difficult it is. And I'm cooking and baking more, so we aren't buying any processed foods. It is certainly time-consuming but I'm seriously surprised at how much I'm enjoying it. Mostly everything we eat now is from scratch, and it really does save more money than I expected.
All that being said . . .
Our budget has been BLOWN OUT OF THE WATER this month.
Did you hear that laborious sigh? Yup. That was me. And the noise following it was my heart hitting the floor.
It's the things we can't account ahead of time that are killing us. A flat tire on the van which ended in us purchasing two brand new tires (needed soon anyway), a service appointment for an oil change and radiator flush for the same van, a new car seat, a maintenance repair on our Volkswagon, and last, but not least, the purchase and installation of a brand new roof rack so we can actually go on our vacation next week. Three car seats, two adults and a tremendous amount of miscellenious gear do not leave any added space for important items like, say . . . SUITCASES holding necessary items like clothing, shoes, soap, shampoo!!!
So in our very first month of serious budgeting, we are way over in several categories due to these mostly unforeseen circumstances. But I haven't given up - and if anything - this has only caused me to be further frugal in other areas in order to help me recoup the “lost” money this month. OK, OK, I get that it's not lost money, but you know what I mean.
Since I was asked, I've decided to post some money saving tips. Please note that I am inexplicably far from being an expert in this area (some are likely falling off their seats and plummeting to the floor upon reading this), but that doesn't mean I can't share my two cents.