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Planning. This is definitely under construction. I have a lot to say in this area, but none of it is set in stone. Brandee, you mentioned the pots. I have done this with envelopes. I have found it to be difficult. More because I would make an envelope for something like medical, but not utilize it and that money would sit there unused. I have seen this system successfully implemented though for a lot of people I know. We are "tweaking" our budget right now. What we have come up with so far is to be putting a certain amount into savings. That saving is then used for the "unexpected" occurrences. How do we get to that "certain amount"? The plan is every month, we will spend X amount on gas, groceries, utilities, mortgage, etc. and then, let's say I do not use all of my budgeted amount for gas that month. As long as I did not go over in another area, that money will go into savings. Basically, the goal is to save up your unused amount each month. This is preliminary as of now. We are just getting started.
Some of the saving is based on what you can control. I can control my food, entertainment, and to a smaller extent, my water/electricity and gas. If we find our energy bill is getting too high, we turn the air up and use less lights in the daytime. If our gas bill is going too high, I work on combining more trips or taking 1 less trip to my parent's house. Summer, you mentioned unexpected items popping up that you need. I have managed this by utilizing really good deals on things I NEED. I specify need because as I mentioned in another blog, I am getting really good at not taking a deal just because it is good. An example is a few weeks ago I had a BOGO coupon for Herbal Essence shampoo. The store had a BOGO sale. You don't need shampoo for a while! BUT, if you find 2 weeks in that there is a similar deal, stock up again. You need and use those items so it is not just a deal. This week, although I already have razors, I have a coupon for $3 off and I happen to know Walmart has them on sale. If I take advantage, I get them for around .80. But, I am not going to make a special trip because then I am wasting the gas.
It has taken me a long time to get to a point where I am ahead on things like shampoo and razor, or laundry detergent and dish soap (which I have enough of to last until January thanks to an unbelievable trip to CVS!) Now, anytime I see a really good deal on those items I can choose to take it, or wait until there is extra room in my grocery budget. Make sense? I also only buy things after finding the store that will get me the most out of my coupons and has the best sales.
Next month, we have to go for Mackenzie's 9 month check up and that is $20 copay. Here is what I will plan. I will plan to take $10 from 1 week and $10 from the next from groceries. I know I can do this because I have. I had 1 week this month where I spent $70 on groceries. I needed to make up $20. After 3 weeks, I am now averaging $52/week. If I can make a $40 week next week, I will actually come out ahead of the game (by $1, but still ahead!) which in turn puts money into savings...when we get that all worked out!
It has all become about the things I can and can't control. I know Madi and I love to take trips to the mall, but it means driving a good distance. This summer, I cut out trips to the mall. I also try to ride with Mike to work if we are going to be doing something in Orlando that day. I set my air higher during the day. I limit my shower time and if we seem to be running high water, I turn the water off while washing my hair or body. It all makes a difference.
I have begun pre-making meals and freezing. I have also taken a new step in doing things like making pudding for Madi's desserts rather than buying pre-made pudding. I also make dinners that are larger for leftovers.
Now, I realize I am a stay at home and you may be thinking I have more time than moms who work. But I am a very busy stay at home mom. I watch baby Paige 2 days a week all day and into dinner time while home schooling Madison (2 of the days actually going TO school with her where I participate in teaching) all of which takes lesson planning and preparing. I still have to do regular household chores and cooking and laundry. Then there is the fact that I have an 8 month old baby who tends to need attention. I definitely understand time constraints. As I mentioned in the last few blogs, I am working on finding time to do the things that are going to make a difference. I want to make a difference to other people as well. I want to use my trials and errors to help and maybe extend our help in other ways because we have been fruitful with our time and our lives.
These are my choices. We, as a family, decided we would try to live a little simpler each and every month. We have made a lot of changes in our lives.
If you would like some ideas of things you can do, I am pretty creative with this stuff and may be a good sounding board!
-Madison lost her first tooth and was so happy and proud. It was like a right of passage!
-Riding bikes outside in perfect weather.
-The smell of fall.
-Mackenzie jumping up and down because she wanted Daddy to pick her up.
-Laughing hysterically at the dinner table as a family of 4. Mackenzie participating.
I am finding so much joy in the simplicity of life. Feeling blessed, happy and loved.