Monday, September 22, 2014

Time for a change


I'll admit things don't get done as fast as I wish they would around here.  I wish I could post amazing progress photos of our house, but there is something holding us back from doing that.  Cash.  
I'm about to get all financial over here.  We have made some changes in the way we are living life and I just thought I'd share, since this blog is about our life and all. Trying to live well below our income means we don't fly through projects because we have to save and have the cash in hand before we do a thing. We're strapping down our belt and pinching our pennies and clearly not spending money we don't have.  We  do have however big dreams for the future, including paying off our house early and using it as an income property to help cover costs of a new place.  I'd really love to be a stay at home mom one day as well .  Of course saving money and putting money into retirement funds is always something we are actively doing as well.
 We are nearing the end of month 1 of the new budget, like really actually keeping track of every penny we spend.   So here are a few things of note from our journey so far.    

We stopped using credit cards with the exception of one card that we charge gas on (I'd even like to stop that).  It is set to auto pay every month so  it is not like we don't pay it, but still I'd like to drop it.  This one was hard for me because I would make a purchase and put it on the card for cash back, but at the end of the day it made spending our money just easier not seeing a real effect right away on our account.  

Personal Money  I don't want to feel guilty about buying new foundation or a few new plants for the garden that we don't actually need, and I don't want Paul to feel guilty about grabbing dinner with a friend one night a week.  We each have $100 a month to spend at our own free will.  I don't know how we chose the number, but it felt right and it worked well for month 1.  The great part is, it rolls over!  So if one of us has a huge want, we can save our personal money slowly. Ahem, camera.  I want a nice DSLR camera.

We cut the eating out and coffee drastically  we have a strict section in the budget for eating out, the two of us, and it is a small number for us.  The eating out trips can add up so fast, even if it small, it has got to be monitored.  If I want a coffee or if the Mr. eats out with a friend that is all from our personal money.  

Find a budget method that works for you!  There are so many methods out there, but if you can't get behind it there is no way you will stick to it.  We have a spreadsheet and put it on google docs so we can both edit it and share it with each other.  This works for us and keeps us accountable, but others like an all cash envelope method, or a dry erase board are also great. Just find your jam, and put all your expenses in the budget, seriously.  Car plate renewal, gotta be in the budget.  Birthday gifts, gotta be in the budget.  Tampons deodorant toothpaste, every dollar counts.   I honestly feel like we didn't do this sooner because I was overwhelmed and thought I would choose the wrong way, but there is no wrong way to budget.  It a personal choice how you do it. 

Cut impulse buys   at the grocery or where ever don't do it.  You will regret it.  Kind of like regretting that extra cookie.  I always make a grocery list and meal plan after looking at the ads for what is cheap that week.  I try and cut out the "man that looks good!"  and stick to my list,  and it shows, our grocery bill has been lower every week.  

We are making additional money  by dog sitting, donating plasma, and online tasks on mechanical turk.  I get $10 a week for letting dogs out one day, and Paul and I combined have made $150 ish on mechanical turk in the month.   We won't turn down an odd job here or there for some extra cash, and we dedicate that money to specific things.  The dog money is in an envelope for a nice vacation one day, the mechanical turk all go toward loans, and plasma donation from Paul twice a week is the money we spend to do projects around the house.  In fact we have an exciting one I'll be sharing this week!  

Stick to your guns and remember what you are working for.  Don't let other people throw you off.  I was feeling guilty about not buying a staff shirt for the marching band I work for.  But you know what? That staff shirt was $31 and ain't nobody got extra cash for that.  

So at the end of the month how do we feel?  Empowered.  I feel in control of what we are doing, and it has helped our communication and feeling like we are taking our life in the same direction.  

I'd love to hear little tips and trick how you handle your finances, comment below!   This blog won't ever have a focus on fiances, but clearly they are a driving factor in our life and how this blog runs.  If you want to learn more about fiances and follow along with a newlywed couple in their financial journey to being debt free check out Keeping up with The Moyers 
-Meg

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