Blake will be the first person to tell you that I love to plan, organize, re-plan, and re-organize. Usually I stick to the rearrangement of things in our house, but my mind has shifted towards reorganizing our budget. After my post on busting our grocery budget, I got plenty of great ideas from your many comments. We're two weeks into the new month, and I wanted to share some rearrangements and our success rate thus far:
- Switch to mint.com - The switch from a cruddy spreadsheet to the glorious mint.com has been AMAZING! It was so easy to set up our accounts and budgets and then watch the website track our spending. I have to go in a tweak things from time to time, but it keeps an accurate count of every penny spent. And with the mint.com app, Blake and I both have access to our budget which means the burden no longer falls on one person to remember what's-been-spent-where.
- Split Transactions - On mint.com, you can "split" transactions. For example, we went to Wal-Mart and spent $154. Not all of that was on food. We also bought face wash, hair spray, car deoderizer, and some other non-food items. With the "split" feature, I can itemize the $154 so that the money spent on face wash and hair spray goes in our "personal care" budget and the car deoderizer goes in "incidentals". I haven't been diligent with this feature yet, but that's my goal for next month!
- $300 Grocery Budget - This one is going so-so. I upped it to $350 last week just because I was already seeing that $300 was not realistic. Part of the problem of overspending for "groceries" will be eliminated when I start splitting transactions. So far, we've spent $335 on groceries this month, but that includes at least $75 of non-food items and $47 worth of groceries for a special mother's day meal. So, if I eliminate those two costs, we've only spent $213 on food. I think itemizing those things next month will help me really see how we're spending. This month is also hard because there are 5 weeks instead of 4.
- Planning Meals - Planning out meals is something I did religously in the fall/winter, but for some reason the spring has been a little more hectic and my plans haven't gone so well. But, I got back on track! I planned for the first two weeks of May (and stuck to it!), I have a plan for this week, and I'm working on one for the next two weeks. I start with looking at what we have in the pantry/fridge and then I look at what's on sale. I'm also reminding myself that I don't have to cook some fancy shmancy dinner every night. Like, last night, we made turkey melts with chips, a pickle, and salad - simple, but good!
- Cable/Internet - This month, we received a bill for internet that was $16 higher than normal. Apparently Comcast has upped its price, once again, and we're kind-of stuck with it since Charter doesn't serve our area. We have Dish Network for TV, so our TV & internet aren't bundled. We were told to call Comcast and ask to add cable and that alone would bring our bill down - even though we wouldn't be using the cable (we love Dish), we'd still be paying less for internet. Crazy, huh?
So, that's how our budget is going. With the way things look now, if we stay on track, mint.com says we should have $208 leftover. I am not sure how accurate that is, but we'll see when we get to May 31 how we did!
Here's the question(s) I'm posing today - going back to the grocery budget:
- Do you spend more on groceries or dining out or do you spend equally?
- Do you actually eat the things you purchase?
- How do you plan what you are going to buy?
- What things do you like to keep on hand at all times? (i.e. I feel like I HAVE to have sour cream, cream cheese, and cornbread mix ALL the time! If I use any of it for a recipe, I immediately put it on our grocery list even if it's not called for in an upcoming recipe!)