My husband and I are in the process of organizing our ENTIRE life, including our finances. One way to do so is to have an fiscal review time. Back when I was staying home we reviewed the finances monthly, but honestly I did not have time once school and our daughter came. So we decided we would get together and review our finances twice a year, once during the summer and once during winter break.
However, after this review I don't think we are reviewing enough and we need to be more in touch than we have been. So, bad news first, we are $400 over in spending for groceries. Wow, that is six whole weeks of grocery spending. Thankfully we did our review before our major grocery shopping trip and because of finding this out, we made some changes. Normally we do a major grocery trip every other week and then go to trader joe's for fruit and other items only at trader joe's the opposing week. We also do runs to cvs and tops market when there are good deals. Part of the problem was that there have not been many good deals from cvs so we have been spending our normal cash on non-food items like paper towels, bathroom tissue and such. Also, I have not been spending as much time getting the gift cards from mypoints as I could because my life has been so crazy busy. But, I need to organize myself because I can't be that crazy busy for more than six months without changing something about my life. But we will get back to that later. What are we doing to save that $400?
Well, we cut out all of the "fat" from our grocery budget and were about to get down to $92 for the next two weeks. But, I think we can stretch that food to three weeks if we hit trader joe's and our new store BJ's warehouse. Our new plan will not include a major run every two week, but every three weeks, allowing for a run to BJ's warehouse and trader joe's in the weeks between, which does mean stretching the time between trader joe's visits as well. This should save us some time as well. Even if we spend high at trader joe's and average at BJ's, we will average about $41/week for the next three weeks if this works. This does mean that we are eating out of the freezer and cupboard at lot so we won't be able to keep this low of spending but we should be able to get close to my goal of $50/week for the rest of the year this way, I think. I will be reviewing this in three weeks to see how we did and I will report back! I am also on the looking for more meals that can be made cheaply. We also will be relying on our very small garden.
Because of our schedules our garden is mostly dead. We have one tomato plant holding on, two basil plants barely holding on, our apple tree and the multiple blackberry bushes. Right now this means I can get a few basil leaves a week and a small handful of blackberries every day. I am going to use the blackberries to stretch our budget. Then, when the apples come in, we will do the same with those. We are lucky to have these fruits that will really help our budget, but that is not just luck. Part of why we chose this house was the tree and we planted the blackberries three years ago because I know I don't have a green thumb. Blackberries are one of those plants that acts like a weed and is very hard to kill. If you don't have much time, or are like me and kill plants, a blackberry bush can be great if you plan to live in your home for over three years. Pre-planning when you have time can have great benefits in the future when you become busy.
But on to the better news! We ended under budget for miscellaneous expenses, like hair cuts, small appliances, etc which is surprising because we had to buy a new printer and I thought that would mean going over. One of the reason I try to be strict with myself is so if issues happen I don't have a major problem. Guess that did not work on the groceries, sigh. Again, on to other expenses. We are within budget for utilities but I would like to cut those down a little more so we are trying to cut down on dryer usage this summer. Everything else is pretty similar to utilities, within budget but I am still looking for more ideas to cut.
Does anyone have ideas they have used for cutting expenses that they would like to share? I always say "never assume you can't do better" and therefore am always on the lookout.