Friday, March 22, 2013

budgeting 101


Lately, we've been making some strides in the budgeting department. Honestly, our financial life has been so crazy-ridiculous with the adoption and then the medical bills from Brecken's early birth that we just kind of lived, bought what we needed and sometimes what we wanted, and paid bills. I wouldn't say we were foolish with our money (we didn't do a lot of things that we would have liked to do), but we weren't consciously evaluating EVERY purchase the way we should have been (even though I've always been kind of a cheapskate in most areas). Now the dust is beginning to settle a bit from the entrances of our baby boys, but with the desire to adopt again in the future (uhh, or NOW, if i'm being honest) and the generosity of some of our friends who have already offered to help us raise funds, we feel that it's even more important to make sure we are accounting for each dollar.

I've been doing some research...started reading America's Cheapest Family for more ideas to try to help streamline the budget. It is an interesting read, but I feel like I've already gleaned a lot of useful information from a few blogs I've been reading lately. I've also been tracking my spending (particularly on groceries) and keeping tabs on best prices in the area. (Why is there not an app for that, or at least a hashtag...#417frugal, anyone??). In my tracking up to now, I've found that we spend waaay too much on food each month. Trying to change that.

One way I'm trying to change that is by giving menu planning a try. Listen, don't judge me if you already knew this was a good idea....I knew it, too, but our lives have always been so ridiculously busy that I would have failed miserably and never tried again. Now seems like a good time to try. Also, driving to the grocery store, sifting through the store, putting groceries away, etc. is such a pain...I'd love to only shop for groceries once a month, so that's a goal of ours. We go to the store at least once a week right now, sometimes 3 or 4 times. Not cool.

Internet, cell phones, and satellite TV bills are also killing me (killing my psyche more than anything). I get so frustrated watching our rates increase for no reason and feeling pretty helpless in it. However, I'm thankful to have learned a helpful lesson from our first adoption: speak up! Now, if I don't like the way a business is operating or treating me and it affects me in a big way, I am much more likely to let them know, not by screaming or shouting, but by being assertive and telling them exactly what I feel hasn't been right and how they can make it right. I never would have done that before because I wanted to be nice. I have now called DIRECTV and CenturyLink NUMEROUS times regarding our increasing rates. After about the 7th call (I wish that was an exaggeration) and a false promise about reducing our rates, CenturyLink finally credited us $20 and took $20 off our monthly bill from now on. However, we will see if they "forget to put that in the system" like last time. Now I'm going to give DIRECTV another call.



Do you do anything to save money? I'd love to hear some ideas from others!