Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Budget Musings

Yesterday I was crunching some numbers to see what we could cut in order to pay down our debt. The trick is, the house doesn't get added on to until all the debt is paid off. And I have this obsession with sun rooms. And guess what? We have plenty of space on the front of the house to add a sun room!

Problem is we can't until all the debt is paid off.

So, after crunching numbers, I realized a few things.

1. We pay way way too much on cell phones.
Solution: Keep the contract for Ben, put my phone on pre-paid. (I used a total of 13 minutes last month... seriously.)

2. Our electric heater and A/C sucks down energy like nobody's business.
Solution: Wood heat with free wood picked up throughout the year. Run the A/C only when it gets unbearable.

3. We spend way too much on fast food.
Solution: Uh, stop eating out.

4. We spend way too much on beer.
Solution: Track a month's spending, cut it in half (or more), and stick it in the budget.

5. We spend way too much on gas.
Solution: Try to combine trips. Have Ben stop at grocery stores/libraries/post office/etc on his way home instead of driving the half hour separate trip. Buy gas when cheap and store in the 55 gal 'gas pump' we have in the garage.

6. Impulse buying at the grocery store.
Solution: Make Ben go with a list. He will be clueless in the store, and therefor will only buy what is on the list in fear of his life.

7. The grocery bill.
This is the hardest one, I think. Currently we spend $400/mo on groceries. This does include the very few (toilet paper, ziplocs... can't think of anything else) disposable items we buy.
But that means we're spending about $15 per day for food. I find this outrageous for some reason.
Solution: Spend $10/day, a total of $70/week, on FOOD ONLY. Budget paper products as needed. Shop sales (big time). Plan out all meals, including snacks. Try to stock up on big sales out of that $70, if possible.

A lot of our budget was eaten up by me NOT checking sales. Now I have a price book that shows me what a good deal is, and what a bad deal is. Especially across stores. For example, Kroger had grapes at $1/lb, which I consider a great deal... until I saw that Carnival had them for 88 cents/lb. The difference doesn't add up to much... until you buy 10 pounds, and realize that's a $1 less. Again, not much, until you realize that many items have that same price arrangement. And those cents add up, so I've noticed! Also coupons are wonderful.

So, $10/day. This should be extremely interesting. I'm going to try to do it for one month, and put that $120 aside for money for stock piling.

Wish me luck!