Wednesday, August 20, 2008

money money money

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.)

-the gym
(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.)

-the newspaper
(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.)


Freckle Face Girl said...

I'm like you in that I don't really budget & I can't tell you what is costing us more, but I've noticed a big change too. As far as cutting back, I am making my husband's breakfast & lunch. I have also tried to curb my shopping and plan (a little) before going to the grocery store.

So, you hit several grocery stores every week? - That is impressive. I go to one main one for the week. It happens to be a great one with regular items as well as gourmet sections. In the middle of the week, I usually hit Super Target & pick up a few more things that I either forgot or we ran out of.

laura said...

I came to budgeting late, but it has made a huge difference (well, that and having a full time job). I feel kind of bad, actually, because I'm doing quite well (again, it helps that I live in a place with a low standard of living, and I don't have kids) while the economy is tanking for everyone else.

Going to multiple grocery stores seems perfectly normal to me, but then I grew up going to a butcher and a greengrocer and the supermarket. I order my fair trade coffee, since it's hard to come by and expensive around here.

Freckle Face Girl said...

I love your blog and selected it for one of my favorites. If you would like to have a look, I have written a post on it.

Aerin said...

Thanks FFG. Now that I think about it, we really only go to two grocery stores. Either the one (more expensive but unionized) close to our home or the non unionized big box store. And thanks for the tag - not sure if I'll take you up on that or not.

Thanks Laura for the recommendation. I think for us, it's also about the gas we would spend going to all those different places. For example, for my parents, they used to drive 25 minutes to a far away suburb to save some $$ on groceries. I never really understood that.

When I think about it, we do sort of budget, just not like my parents do/did. I realized the other day, my mom used to sort all the food out of the cart onto the moving belt at the cashier. (veggies together, frozen food, etc.) It may have been courtesy for the bagger, but I'm also pretty sure that my parents went over that grocery list with a fine tooth comb (do we really need this?). It's just interesting thinking back on it.

Katy said...

We're feeling the pinch too. Not in a 'hurting our souls or our ability to continue living' kind of way. But we can go to the grocery store, spend $100, and come home and wonder why we don't have anything to eat.