16 May 2013

Summer Slimdown Part III

So we've talked about goals.  We've talked about the plan of attack.  And now we need all the help we can get.  Short of posting our address so that y'all can send all your extra cash our way, here are some things that have been helpful/motivational/educational thus far:

Budget Bytes/meal planning: As you know, I cook most every night and do so from a weekly menu.  I don't need to rehash the details for you {you can find them here}.  Meal planning in and of itself helps save quite a bit of money and it certainly did so for us when I first started on our meal planning journey 2.5 years ago.  But now we need to me more aggressive.  Budget reduction has forced me to do two things: have up to the minute knowledge of what's in our pantry/fridge/freezer and hunt for more inexpensive recipes that are still healthy and fall in line with our food values.

Enter the Budget Bytes website.  You may have noticed that a LOT of my Menu Monday recipes as of late have come from her website. There are so many delicious ideas and they're all realistic and wallet-friendly.  I still use my other usual recipe sources, but I have to analyze them more closely to make sure they fit within our grocery budget.  The good news is that the budget reduction has helped me in my goal to reduce our meat consumption.  Meat ain't cheap!

Any other websites or resources for real food {i.e. no packaged, processed junk} recipes on a budget?

Dave Ramsey's website: While we have no plans to enroll in any FPU classes or purchase any of the materials, there is a wealth of information on Dave Ramsey's website that is available for free.  Information on the cash envelope system, the seven baby steps, home buying, and more is there for the taking.  Honestly, I haven't even scratched the surface with the available information.

Nancy Ray's website: I found Nancy's website through Em for Marvelous and it's been very inspirational.  This post in particular has links to resources they found to be helpful.

Excel: OMG this would NOT be possible without my handy dandy Excel spreadsheet.  I have one document for our budget.  There is a different worksheet for each month.  Each worksheet is broken down into the following categories: Fixed Expenses, Minimum Credit Card Payment, Envelopes, Debt Pay-Off, and Income. Depending on any special circumstances that month, there may also be columns for Gifts {even though the money is coming out of the Gifts envelope, I use these columns to budget exactly how much to spend on each gift} or Travel or, like this month, M's Parking Tickets.  At the bottom of each spreadsheet I have what our total amount of debt is at the beginning of the month. That helps me keep an eye on the big picture.  I get a really sick pleasure out of updating my little Excel workbook. I love it.

One thing that hasn't worked: envelopes. Not to be confused with the Envelope System. Since this is our first month and it seemed a little contradictory to purchase a special wallet for a system that's supposed to help us STOP spending money, I just used plain ole paper envelopes.  FAIL. This worked for M's envelopes {he has one for his gas money, one for his fun money, and he has the one for pet supplies} because he just keeps them locked in his car.  For me, it just meant that I had loose change falling out into the bottom of my purse. Disaster. It caused some serious stress in the check-out line at the grocery store last week.  I'm going to have to get me one of these pretty little things to help with the organization.

So that wraps up our money talk for the week!  I'd love to know what resources have been helpful to those of you workin' your family budgets. I get distracted easily, so I need mucho assistance in staying on task during our journey to being 100% debt-free.  I'll be checking in periodically on our progress, mainly when we've crossed something off the checklist or hit a major milestone.  We're hoping to reduce our total debt by 10% by the end of this year.  Fingers crossed!


The enchanted home said...

Thanks for all the leads and links.....I look forward to exploring some of them. Enjoy your day!

HMB said...

Have you ever tried mint.com? That's my favorite budgeting tool!