Archive for the ‘budget’ Category

1) Cutting Back on Wal-mart. While there are great savings to be had at Wal-mart, there is also a great potential for abusing your wallet.  We used to visit Wal-mart three or more times a week, and it seemed like every time we visited Wally Mart my wallet vomited money (not a pretty picture..but just be glad I didn’t go with the diarrhea analogy).    So many cheap things that only cost $1 here or $3 dollars there, add it all up and it amounted to spending anywhere from $45 to $225 per trip.   Between implementing shopping lists and recognizing that I am the impulsive buyer in the family (and taking steps to address that weakness) we have significantly lowered what we spend at Wal-mart each month.

  • Previous Spending = $600
  • New Spending = $275
  • Savings = $325 ($3900 annual savings)

2) Cutting the Cable Cord.  Between Hulu.com and Netflix, there is no reason to hang on to cable anymore.

  • Previous Spending – $26
  • New Spending = $0
  • Savings = $26 ($312 annual savings)

3) Eating IN.  We were spending so much money on eating out it was ridiculous.  Even the local pizza place cost $22 for three people to eat a large pizza, three sodas, and a small side of garlic knots.  Some months our dining out habit cost us $200/month.  But usually we spend about $125 between local pizza places, McDonald’s, etc.

  • Previous Spending = $125
  • New Spending = $20
  • Savings = $105 ($1260 annual savings)

4) No More Phone Bills.  Well we do get phone bills, but we cut our long distance service on our land line and we only use MagicJack for long distance calls.

  • Previous Spending = $49
  • New Spending = $21
  • Savings = $28 ($336 annual savings)

5) Staying at the Pump. One of the biggest surprises in reviewing our spending habits was discovering how much money we wasted at gas station convenience stores.   Buying a pack a soda and a small package of beef jerky might only cost $3.50 each time, but added up over a month it totals about $30.   So pay by credit card, stay at the pump, pack your travel snacks- and store a few non-perishable extras in the glove compartment for when you forget to pack a snack one day.

  • Previous Spending = $30
  • New Spending = $0
  • Savings = $30 ($360 annual savings)

…The Results…

  • Wal-mart   $325
  • TV                 $  26
  • Eating In    $105
  • Phone         $28
  • Convenience Store Spending  $30
  • TOTAL SAVINGS/MONTH = $514 ($6,168 annual savings)

Some of these budget cuts won’t work for you, and that is fine.  We each have different spending habits and our budgets hemorrhage cash depending on our own impulses, weaknesses, tastes, etc.   When you review you spending habits (write down EVERYTHING you spend even a penny on for a month and review your bank statements from the past) you will see the areas where you’re spending beyond your means or wasting funds.  It’s not as hard as you might think and making these changes isn’t all that painful either.  Please feel free to post additional ideas on cutting budget or your own success stories when it comes to budget cutting in the comments section.

    Sitting around the house gives you lots of time to think about things that otherwise would not cross your mind.  As I lay in bed this morning, tolerating the miserable coughing fits associated with this cold, I started reviewing our budget in my head.  On of the first things that jumped out at me is how much we spend on Cable T.V. each year.  Even our special no frills package from Time Warner costs $29.95 a month- $360 a year.  At first I considered getting something less expensive like Dish Network’s $19.99/month plan, but I was not too thrilled about the idea of being locked into yet another contract.  But even more troubling was when I reviewed our T.V. viewing habits for the last year or so.   Sure, we use our t.v. to watch the regular stuff most people do (Sponge Bob, House M.D., Lost), but as of late the only real use we’ve been getting out of it is the cartoons our daughter watches- and she has most of those on DVD.    Just in case you were curious (and b/c break has left me with too much free time on my hands) I created this nifty 3-D pie chart:

    See what I mean?  So it would be pretty foolish not to cut this from my budget.  Between Netflix and Hulu we can watch most things either through mail order rentals or direct play online.  We could also use 10-20% of the money saved to buy DVDs for our daughter- something permanent she can watch.  And lucky for us she isn’t picky with t.v. shows on DVD.  Her latest favorite is a show called Mona the Vampire which apparently is produced by and shown on Canadian Public Television.  DVDs of the show often end up in Walmart’s $5 DVD bin.   So even with $60 spent on DVDs we would save $300/year.

    Now if only we could get this foster to adoption process going I could get rid of the overpriced land line phone and use Magic Jack as our sole line we will save even more.   But until the adoption is finalized the foster care system requires you MUST have a land line phone.

    Well there is lots of stuff to catch up on so maybe I should say something like, “Coming this Week”

    First I have to “dance with the one that brung me” and get back to some good old fashioned weight loss blogging. I have gotten a bit off track and forgotten my Excel spread sheets for the last few days. Well, I plan on bringing them back. I am also putting together a new post on sex and exercise (related to the VERY popular sexercise post– now viewed over 4,200 times) that will come with an interesting challenge. (more…)

    For your enjoyment and benefit, the following is a brief reference guide to help you learn the importance of avoiding debt, how to save (regardless of your income), and and how to save painlessly (and for the masochists- painfully).  (more…)

    It is a beautiful snowy day here in North Carolina. So as I enjoy the snow with my daughter, I would remind you that we need all the help we can get financing our dream (the non-profit ranch). We are doing our best saving all our change, cutting back on the unnecessary purchase, and paying down those pesky credit cards with their income gobbling interest rates.

    If you want to help just click on the link below and send a few PayPal bucks our way. Thanks in advance for all those who drop us a few cents or a few dollars.

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    Well, what are my blogging plans for the next month or so (at least the highlights)…

    First, I will be writing three posts for StraighttotheBar.com.  [Click on the link now and see a video a guy bending a wrench].  Most likely the posts will be entitled:

    “Eliminating the Lug Nuts: How to Find a Good Trainer.”

    “The Power of the Negative.”

    “Visualization: No Longer just for New Age Hippies.”

    Much to my wife’s chagrin over at Musings, Rants, and Monologues I will be posting on my recent quest to build the perfect minority.  Trust me, it will be both offensive, sophomoric, and politically incorrect to the 1,000 degree.

    And right here on this, my main blog, I will be posting on my recent struggles with food, our upcoming travels, getting a handle on credit card debt (our experience), and the kind of things you do to start a mental transformation that can keep pace with your physical transformation.  See you later!

    Well I wanted to post on money saving investments today, and all I could come up with was one idea.  So I will share my one idea and in return I hope you guys share some ideas on investments that will save money in the long term.

    Buy a Freezer:  Who hasn’t been frustrated by the inability of their freezer to adequately contain the fruits of a trip to the grocery store?  And when meat goes on sale, a rare occurrence, it is a great idea to scoop up as much as possible (and reasonable).    For example, our local grocery store occasionally puts 3 lb bags of chicken breast on sale for $3.50 each.  The usual price is 7.99-8.99 per bag.

    Now, if you owned an individual freezer unit you would have somewhere to put that discount meat- not to mention pastries, frozen veggies, and frozen fruits.

    How much can you save with this idea?  Well let’s just take the chicken example.   My family goes through three bags a month (sometimes four).  At $8.50 per bag the cost over the year is $306, while the the cost at $3.50 per bag is less than $130 per year.  A savings of  $176 dollars over the year.  And that is JUST the chicken.

    Now I know there are some costs associated with this.  For example electricity to run the unit.   But, to the best of my knowledge, once the unit is full it is relatively inexpensive to run- as the frozen goods in a packed refrigerator allow the unit to use less electricity than an empty freezer.

    So what are your ideas?