Posts Tagged ‘budget’

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.

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    Groceries represent a major part of our budget.  They also represent a major issue when it comes to fat loss since what’s in your fridge has a great deal to do with your nutritional intake.  So this budget move aims to fix two problems simultaneously; we will hopefully fatten our savings while slimming our waists.    How will we do this:

    (1) We are giving coupons a second chance.  We tried this several times over the last four years but we never planned in advance, it was usually a matter of buying a Sunday paper at the grocery store, then shopping.  And predictably enough, it was a debacle and a half.  We ended up buying a bunch of stuff we didn’t need (not to mention plenty of unhealthy snacks).

    (2) Our Grocery list has authoritarian powers.  Our grocery list has become the closest thing to a dictator in this house (and in the store).  When we hit the Wal-mart or the Kroger we only allow ourselves ONE item that isn’t on the list (just in case we  forget an essential).

    (3) The calculator called shotgun. We write down the cost of everything that goes in the cart and we tally it up before we hit the register.  That way there are no surprises.

    (4) Pre-planned major meals. While breakfast and lunch are usually individual meals (especially during the week), we plan each dinner for the week and most of the weekend meals before we draw up our shopping list.  It keeps the food included on the shopping list down to a minimum and it also keeps us from overeating.

    (5) Buy LOTS Non-perishables  when they are on Sale.   Make sure you take advantage of the sales on paper towels, tissue paper, cleaning supplies, etc. when they come along.  We recently got Boston Butt pork roasts for .79 cents a lb at the local Harris Teeter.  If only we had more freezer space we would have purchased more.   Usually that cut of meat goes for anywhere from $1 to 1.79/lb.  One five lb roast, left in the slow cooker or the rotisserie and combined with some spices or sauces can feed our family of three for at least three meals.

    Using these techniques we are hoping to bring our grocery budget, once a whopping $550+/month, down to a more manageable $65/week.

    So here comes a new year.  So many chances to embrace constructive change.  If only I had more control over some of the things I wanted to change, like, I resolve not to catch either a cold or the flu this year.  But those type of things aside I’ve embraced the following resolutions:

    We will maintain budgetary discipline.  How?

    • We will use cash only to make purchases.
    • We will leave our debit cards in the car wherever we go. (accessible for emergencies but inaccessible for impulse buys)
    • Only one dinner out per month.
    • Make and live by a budget.
    • Allison will be in charge of meal planning and grocery shopping (we found that too many chefs in the store led to too much waste in the refrigerator).

    I will reestablish physical and nutritional discipline.  How?

    • Back to a high protein, low carb lifestyle.
    • Make my high water intake more consistent.
    • Get back to my tires and sandbag.
    • Get on Freecycle and find more outdoor equipment (I am thinking of an old barbell and some old weight plates).
    • Aside from Jan. 1st, I will cut back on sleeping in and late bed times.  Not to mention 7 hours of sleep a night.
    • Be more consistent with recording my nutritional intake and exercise.  I am much better at journaling workouts than I am nutrition.  Could be because writing down reps is a good way to get rest between sets, I usually don’t have to rest between bites- if I did that would mean I was disturbingly out of shape.

    Goals to achieve by December 31st, 2010

    • Publish article
    • Get 1/2 way through my dissertation
    • 100 consecutive push-ups/sit-ups
    • 55lb Turkish get-up (@10 reps)/50 burpees/12 chin-ups (or 1 one-arm chin-up)
    • Design or build at least 3 new workout toys in the backyard (Keg full of sand is my next project plus replacing my broken slosh bar)
    • Weigh in at between 159 and 165lbs
    • 31 inch waist or less
    • Lower cholesterol
    • Run a 6 minute mile
    • Not essential, but it would be nice: rediscover my six-pack mid-section.

    How about you?

    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.