A few weeks ago we realized that according to our budget we should be saving over $500 a month. That was super confusing to us because we havent been able to save a dime, and we were actually losing money each month. Where the #$%! was our money going? When we made our original budget we added this “miscellaneous” line for things that may be unexpected and figured that dollar amount might be around $100. But when we went through our January spending we realized that the amount was actually closer to $650, we suck! It was a real learning experience to see how small things add up VERY quickly when swiping our debit cards or using LevelUp (FREE PLUG! PLEASE GIVE US MONEY NOW!) on our way to work to grab coffee or snacks. We learned what habits we need to quit cold turkey - like NOW.
Keri can no longer stop at 7/11 to buy those gross Starbucks frappuccinos and cookies because that adds up to about $75 a month. Dylan can no longer buy lunch at the work cafeteria because at $7 to $10 a meal that can add up to over $200 a month. When you add in going to the movies, parking fees, ordering take out, and getting hair cuts our miscellanous category ended up at $648.42 for January. Gross.
So how can we change this without depriving ourselves of happiness? We need to break the expenses down and find better ways to save. The categories are as follows:
- Unexpected Costs
We did a terrible job in January, so we are going to really focus on solving this miscellaneous issue in February. We're starting with food. We want to keep that category out of our miscellaneous section since we have already budgeted $300 a month for food alone. So, we have to make sure we are stocking our kitchen well and staying within our set dollar amount. To do this we have to be very careful in planning out our grocery list down to specific meals and snacks. We find it is easiest to go food shopping once a week and plan for 7 days of eating. Eating “vegan” (ugh) makes sticking to a budget a little more challenging but we can make it work by shopping at Trader Joe’s and buying veggies from our local farmer’s market.
We're also trying something new to force us into sticking to our budget - taking out $300 in cash and keeping it in our FOOD envelope. We did this in January and it failed miserably, but we are going to try again! We are going to take only $75 in cash each time we go to the market and if that means having to embarrasingly take out a few apples at the register than so be it. On top of trying to stick to a budget we must buy enough food to keep us full because there is no need to suffer while saving money. We need to plan for packing a lunch every day and have snacks in order to fight the temptation of a mid-day sugar fix. We did a test run of how this newer/stricter budget will work out tonight (THursday January, 31). You can see all the food we got at the top of this post and the final price at the bottom. So damn close, thank god it's not February yet.