Monday, May 27, 2013

Beefing Up the Budget

     We're in the middle of trying to cut and trim and shape our budget. We want to get the heck out of debt. Amazingly our greatest expenses aside from housing are food, household misc, and gas (ugh it's always freaking gas).

     We have the best phone deal on the planet (IMHO) via Virgin Mobile. I've looked and looked to make sure we're getting the best deal. If anyone knows of anything better please don't let me continue on thinking we're doing well here. No contract, unlimited data, unlimited texting, and the ability to change our plan minutes every month is exactly what we need right now. They have lots of different plans and there's a ton of flexibility so we don't have to worry about crazy fees or unexpected things. Our phones don't suck and if we wanted to pay near full price we COULD get iPhones if we wanted too. (But we don't. I mean, I do . . . but I'm trying to know better.)

      We only pay for the internet plan we "NEED"(that's a first world need in case you were confused). It's enough to run Netflix if we want too and make sure our internet isn't dropping out in the middle of an important online assignment. We're about to cut it down and save $15-20 a month too. We don't have cable TV. We use Netflix and Hulu as we please. We can change our plans or put them on hold anytime. Right now we've got Hulu on hold for the summer since all our beloved shows are over. 

     The hard part is coming up with our monthly "blow money" (as many Dave Ramsey fans call it), our general household budget for food and toiletries, and freakin' gasoline. 

     So for the blow money: my hubby tends to want to cut it all out and do nothing. I gently (haha) remind him that I'm at home ALL the time 24/7 with no car (we only have one vehicle, another post for another day) and if he likes my sane version of me he'll help me find a way to set aside like $20 to go OUT and do something as a family. That money can be used for the extra gas to take a day trip to the state park, to go to the mini golf place down the street one weekend, or to snag a good deal on Living Social for food or an activity. Discussions are still underway. We're pretty good about not spending too much on these outings. We're NOT so great at avoiding fast food. That is something we ARE planning to cut out completely and it will be rolled in with the blow money. Instead of full-priced icecream from coldstone we might go for $1-2 shakes or slushies some night. 

   For the gas: Bane of my existence. Fo'realz. We do have a Sam's Club membership this year. We decided to try it out. So, we get a discount at their gas station. Sadly, that's on the other side of town so it's actually an out-of-the-way drive to get gas from there UNLESS we're on that side of town for one of three things (school, Sam's, or hubby's softball games). I've yet to find a great solution for cutting gas prices all the time. There's no way we're getting some gas station credit card. We have talked about getting hubby a bike since he only works 1 mile down the road but it's not your average road and there are NOT any bike lanes. He also has to drive a couple hours away at least once a month. It's a temporary solution anyway because we have no idea how far we'll be once our lease is up. I do tend to overestimate (both the cost per gallon AND the amount we'll need) what we'll need to avoid surprises.

    Then there's the food: THIS is a major work in progress. I think we do pretty well. We could definitely use Aldi's more often. I could also be more diligent about coupons. I'm working on some recipes that are cheap and healthy. This isn't so easy since by healthy I actually mean HEALTHY and not mac n cheese with REAL cheese or turkey corndogs. Although, I won't deny it if those things end up on our menu. I'll have to get back with what I come up with for this. It's definitely a challenge. 

P.S. I hope everyone has a wonderful memorial day!

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