I've never been good at budgeting. My parents had a pretty strict budget (out of necessity) growing up. My current philosphy is that we haven't had to really watch every penny so far, why start now?
With gas prices as they are, on one income, we have had to tighten our belts (so to speak). I'm not complaining about this, as I am well aware that we are very, very fortunate. We have health insurance and a steady income. We're not about to lose our home to foreclosure.
But I have news for the economists - I can feel the pinch of inflation. Again, since I don't budget/keep track, I couldn't tell you that a packet of noodles is now $.10 more. I can definitely say - money used to go farther. Our water bill has gone up $10 a month - they're putting in new sewers. It's not that we can't afford it - we just have to juggle. I can't imagine what we would do if we were on a fixed income.
Here are some of the things we have been doing (in the past few months) to save money:
-I've been drinking the free coffee at work.
(I can tell the difference. I don't like the taste. I should just give up my extra coffee, but I'd rather drink the not so great tasting coffee than none at all).
-We've been eating out less and cooking more.
(A lot less. We used to eat out (or order in) around once or twice per week. Although there are more dishes, cooking in is much cheaper).
-I bring my lunch to work
(Another thing that I really don't like to do. Particularly eat leftovers. Yet - even bringing some form of frozen dinner is cheaper than eating at my company's cafeteria OR getting a sandwich somewhere. Even two or three days per week).
-We're not driving to the fancy grocery store for higher end items
(We currently drive to lots of different grocery stores for different items. I get this straight from my parents who still go to three separate grocery stores. I'm not joking. Better deals/items at different places. We've been trying to consolidate. At one point, my brother in law wanted us to add a fourth grocery destination to get fair trade coffee. I'm all about fair trade coffee, but I wasn't about to add another trip. We found fair trade coffee at one of the other stops - so there you are).
-I'm coloring my hair at home
(I blogged about this here. Home hair dye kits have come a long way. I know that some people can tell the difference, and if I wanted to be a vice president in my company, I would probably care. But I don't. I wonder if I should mention that I save over $40 every six weeks or so this way??)
-We got rid of the home dvd delivery service
(It was great. It was nice while it lasted. Particularly because we could order kids dvds through the mail and not spend a ton of money on new dvd's. But even $10-15 per month adds up).
What we haven't given up (yet):
-cable/high speed internet
(I'm not in the throes of people who don't watch or own a tv. We watch tv. It's relaxing for me. We both still read and spend a lot of time on the internets.)
(It's a luxury. It may end up on the chopping block soon. I just know that I feel better and healthier, and my kids still love the on site play group.)
(Honestly, we could probably stop this. Like the home dvd service, it's not that expensive. But we do actually read the paper each day now that we have little ones. And it can be easier to read (and comprehend) than online.)