Saturday, August 7, 2010

Living on a Budget

Sometimes living on a budget stinks! I hate how much I have to analyze every purchase, wondering if that purchase is worth the amount it costs and will take from that month's allowance. Thinking about ways to find it cheaper or avoiding the cost all together. It's just frustrating to have to think SO much about every dollar that goes out of your wallet! The truth is that I already had a tendency to over analyze my purchases and be some what of a "penny pincher", but now it's just that much  more. I don't like it at all, but I do know that the end result will be to not have to think about every dollar because our budget will be more then enough to cover what we need. I can't wait for that day!! :) So, here's my example of some of these moments of sacrifice. The first one happened a few days ago. I ran out of eyeliner and didn't have any money left in the "personal" budget, intended for those types of things, until next Friday! BUT, I did have a bunch of sample eye liners from a pack of Mary Kay stuff I used to have. Yep, you guessed it, I've been using every sample size eye liner I have until next Friday. The good news is that it's actually good that I'm finally using them and I'm really going to appreciate my full sized eye liner when I get it too! ;) The other example happened yesterday. I took the kids to the County Fair. They were having a kid's day, so everything was free, unless you did rides (which we skipped anyway-the kids were are too small) and $5 for parking. Yes, our entertainment budget is also gone until next Friday (this month was a little messed up b/c we started it in the middle of the month so we had to take into account everything that was already on our credit card bill--nearly all of our budget for most things! :( ). Anyway, so $5 parking was not happening. I decided I had to park on the other side of the grounds and walk all the way up to the fair! I know, it was only $5, but this is what happens when you live on a cash budget, when it isn't there, it just isn't there! I did get a nice little workout out of the walk and really it wasn't that far, so I'm proud of myself for not cheating and following through with our plan to do this makeover as best we can.

On the other hand, thinking on a budget has been good for us too. It's made us really think through how we are going to pay for things that are a higher up front cost or something that may exceed our current allowance in that area, so we have to actually have a plan! We can't just say, "oh, we'll take it out of savings" or "we'll just have to cut back some where else." We have to actually decide how we're going to adjust things in order to make it work, because we don't have credit cards to fall back on and we don't have savings to dip into either. Since the program we are doing only allows savings to be used for emergencies, most of the purchases I'm referring to don't really qualify! Here is my example for how we've had to plan better. We have been looking into getting 1/4 of a cow from a farmer for nearly a year now, but just haven't been able to go through with it for several reasons. The benefits are great for getting your meat this way and for our family it could last us from 6mo-1 year, because we don't eat a huge amount of beef and we tend to be "small" eaters compared to others too. Anyway, the hard part is that it's a big upfront cost including the purchase of a larger freezer. We estimate it being about $500 for the meat and about another $100 for the freezer (which we already have an idea about getting that one through a rebate from our electrical company). We still have to find $500 though and our grocery budget is far less then that each month. So, here's the plan: save the money we would put toward meat for the next several months (we already have some in the freezer to get us by for a while) and any extra we have at the end of the month for the cow. As soon as we have saved the $500 we can order our cow. I know it's probably going to take us a while, but I'll be satisfied by the fact that we saved for it and didn't over extend ourselves for the meat. Then throughout the next year while we're using the beef I'll save some aside each month in order to get the cow again when we are done with our first one. Doesn't that sound like a great plan? Thanks to thinking on a budget, we aren't just dipping into savings, we will prepare for it! 

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