Friday, January 1, 2010

How On Earth Can I Cinch My Girth?

That's right. I said 'girth'. Time to tighten the belt, honey. I'm talking major budget cutting time.

Our 2010 Financial Goals require some savvy stewardship. Cutting the budget by $500 may require an iron will. ... I'm gonna give it a hearty go!

Here are some things I plan to do that will help to cut costs.
  •  just a note - most of my saving efforts will revolve around food and groceries. Categories that were hardest hit in this budget reduction were 'Eating Out' and 'Groceries'.
  1. Participate in the "Eat From the Pantry Challenge"
    1. eating what's already in my freezer and pantry will cut spending immediately
  2. Meal Plan
    1. careful planning, then shopping according to that plan, should reduce the amount of impulse buying I do. I won't need to buy all those 'just incase' items. I'll know what I need.
  3. Make the Freezer my friend.
    1. with my own meals in the freezer, I won't need to order in, eat out, or buy frozen or pre-fab meals. Home cooking is less costly ... just requires some work and planning. (Please note - my freezer doesn't often look this neat and tidy. ... it also doesn't always look this stocked. ... just so you don't start thinking I'm awesome at stocking my freezer. It was a good day, so I took a picture.)  :)
  4. Snack Plan
    1. I noticed this week how often I snack on boxed, bagged and canned items. Chips, crackers, chocolate ... they're fast, they're easy, and they're costly. I know I could save money here. I plan to have snacks available in the cupboard and freezer (fruit, muffins, cookies, granola bars), and maybe it wouldn't even kill me to pop some popcorn instead of diving into a $2.00 bag of chips....
  5. Lunch Plan
    1. Mac & Cheese, Chicken Nuggets and Tomato Soup in a can have been our best lunch-time friends. If I plan a bit, I think I can save some money here AND inject some nutrition into our lunch times :) I figure I can stock our freezer with some quick-and-easy home-made lunch meals like ..
        1. Pizza Pops
        2. Pig-in-a-blanket
        3. Mini Pizzas or Pizza Buns
        4. Mac & Cheese Casserole
        5. Tuna-Noodle Casserole
    2. I could also try to have enough leftovers on-hand that lunch is right there in the fridge. That's usually plan A, but ready-made freezer bites are always handy!
  6. Grocery Cash
    1. I use the envelope system to curb spending on areas where I tend to easily overspend, or where we need to save for a bigger expense. Groceries hasn't been included, but I think I'll include it now. No more swiping the card till my heart's content.Yup, cash only. And when it's gone, it's GONE.
  7. Hand Made Gifts
    1. I plan to make next year's Christmas gifts, at least some of them, and I'd like our kids to get involved making gifts for their friends too. I've got a 'hand made gifts' list growing every day ... I'll share that in a future post.
  8. Buy Used
    1. We bought our kids' gifts from garage sales and thrift stores this year, and they loved them. We made a great haul - keyboard, McDonalds cash register, Disney princess figures, books - we spent under $25 on both of them. I plan to do that again next year.
  9. And Finally ... DO WITHOUT!!!
    1. I will actually have to tell myself "NO!". No, I don't need curtains, blinds, books, movies, new dishes, expensive spices .... No, I don't need to go to that home party where I will, of course, buy something. Use something else, borrow or do without. Do ANYTHING but buy it unless I ABSOLUTELY MUST. ... I know I'll flounder with this one, but flounder isn't failing. I know I can do this.
    2. Fix what's broken (rather than throw it out)
    3. Sew it myself (eek. Time to learn a skill. I've been ... gulp ... dare I confess it? ... I've been paying someone $5-$10 - each time- to mend our clothes because I don't know how to sew and don't have a sewing machine! ... yes, time to learn a skill)
I think these will prove to be big money savers. Like so many things, this isn't just about the money.
  • I want to be a good steward, not the lazy, wicked servant.
  • I want to share. I always thought it was disgusting that rich people would spend their ever increasing wealth on themselves. Yet, here I am spending our increased income on us. Nothing wrong with enjoying what God's blessed us with, but we are also to share, care for others, and show love through deeds.
  • I don't like sacrifice. Who does? But I like what will happen if I do it. I will be reminded constantly of God's provision, of my duty to manage it well, and of his wonderful favor. How blessed I am that he uses what he's given me to help others? Fantastic blessing. Definately worth the small sacrifice.
  • Whether these goals are met or not, I will grow in self discipline and patience. I will acquire new skills. At the very least, I'll know myself better.
  • Financially, we'll be in better shape for sure. Less monthly spending, and climbing our way to debt-free living! Woo! I can hardly wait!!
Well, here we go. Let's get frugal!

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