You can learn a lesson from movies

November 4, 2007

A couple weeks ago I watched Meet The Robinsons, very good movie that adults can take a lesson from, not just kids. I didn’t really think too much about the main them;, don’t let fear keep us from moving forward, until I read Time to Budget’s post.  Here is part of what she wrote:

meettherobinsons.jpgI just watched the movie Meet the Robinsons with my kids and it is now on my favorite movie list. The movie had a message that rings true in the lives of many people. I believe the fear of failure is what keeps most from successfully reaching their dreams. This movie not only encouraged me to overcome this fear of failure but also to embrace the failures that do happen.”


Grocery Store Tips

November 3, 2007

Do you have any grocery store tips you can share? 

We have a grocery budget of $650 a month for a family of 6.  July was an awesome months at just under $500 and the worst was September, $675.  Our grocery allowance doesn’t include dining out, but we really try to limit that to only once a month.  I think we’ve done very well for a family our size.

Here are some tips that have helped keep our food budget down:

– Make a list prior to going shopping.  Ideally keeping a list on the fridge to write down items as you use them would be best but hasn’t always worked.  The list helps limit the I want items from the store.

– Clip coupons from the paper.  Go through these prior to leaving for shopping.  Take the coupon binder with you, just in case those must have items happen.

– Plan meals for the next week.  Use this to help determine the items needed from the store.  I’ll be honest that we are horrible at this but when accomplished it aides greatly in the shopping and list making.

– Understand you won’t be perfect during your shopping, want items will slip into the cart.  Try to limit these as much as possible, try to improve with each grocery trip.  If you can avoid these items making it into you cart please share your secret.

– Online coupons.  I actually made an online coupon document for helping us save additional money.  This was time consuming and took a lot of will power to accomplish.  I’ll try to check the online coupon sites each week and use some of the individual products regularly.

Above are some things we’ve done in the past to help save money.

Keeping food budget down with kids

November 2, 2007

What do you to keep grocery bills down?
Do you have any special circumstances that make it hard to cut costs?

We have four kids, two girls (12 and 7) and two boys (10 and 5).  As a result trying to keep the grocery spending, among other things, is a huge challenge for us.  Add in the fact that both of my girls have Celiac Disease is another challenge for us, but one we gladly accept and deal with.

With celiac disease the food that our girls can eat is different than the rest of the family.  Some things we all eat the gluten free food but on some things we make separate batches but we have to be careful for cross contamination.  Here are some examples of our challenges: These prices are a guide.

Bread – $4 vs. $1.15
Mac & Cheese – $2.25 vs. $0.49 (on sale)
Cake mix – $3.50 vs. $0.88
Pasta – $2.50 vs. $0.99 (actually I don’t know on these because we just use the gluten free when making something with pasta for everyone…..normally)

We do buy flour as well but have found the girls like the other bread much better, and in the end the price difference wasn’t big enough to worry about. Something that helps is our local grocery store does a 15% off whatever you can fit in a bag every so often.

Our children know that eating out is going to be few and far between.  They’ve also been told that certain things at the grocery store will no longer be bought; we do still buy snacks and stuff for school and dessert.  Our plan is to use coupons, watch ads and just overall try to watch what we’re spending on food.  Dave Ramsey is all over the beans and rice but our family isn’t going crazy with that but will be cutting some things out of the routine.  I don’t expect us to be perfect overnight, improving a little bit each and every month to reduce spending.

When it Goes Right

November 1, 2007

You feel great!!!!!!!!!!!

The month wasn’t perfect, in the end having a plan and sticking to it caused us to not blink an eye at the unexpected and just move on.  The plan had extra that would have been toward debt, just having that allowed us to handle real life!

Our oldest daughter has a problem with metal that causes her to break out; she thanks me for that, which meant we bought a piece for her violin that is covered.  This set us back $30.  The Honda also had the battery go out on it setting us back another $90, the money doesn’t upset me it’s the fact the battery only lasted 3 years.

I had some overtime pay this month which really helped but sticking to the plan enabled us to pay extra for debt and Christmas.

$600 payed to debt.
$100 extra for the Christmas fund.

Such an awesome feeling being in control of our money!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Halloween is upon us

October 31, 2007

Are you being frugal this Halloween?

We’re trying to be, using costumes we already had or dress up outfits that the kids have had.  According to receipts I received from my wife we spent only $5.50!

Daughter is being Wilma Flinstone.  I think the only thing we bought was a big bone for a prop and orange hair spray, already had the outfit.  Wilma

Son is being Darth Vader.  He will wear black clothes with the cape and talking helmet that he already had.  Darth Vader

The other daughter is going to be an angel, buying a halo is all that was needed.  Angel

Last but not least my youngest is going to be a pirate, he pretty much had it all already.  Pirate

Spending Plans can be VERY Intimidating the First Time

October 30, 2007

     Back at the end of May the wife and I did our very first spending plan with our new found intensity to get out of debt.  I go through putting the initial estimates into the spending plan, this is because I’m the nerd and getting the numbers going is fine with me.  Don’t think my wife doesn’t do anything because what she does is very very important in the process.

     Even though I’ve been keeping track of utilities on my Where the Money Goes spreadsheet it is different trying to spend the money before we see it. I can guess the amounts using past bills and paying attention to what we’ve been doing for the past month but trying to actually forecast close to what the actual bill will be is harder than I thought it would be. Of course bills come before the first of the month so that helps get some concrete numbers in place instead of just guessing.

The hardest part is trying to get all the expenses that come up each month into the plan.  School supplies, vehicle expenses, music needs, clothing, etc.

I input everything into the plan the way I think it needs to input and allocated, and then print it out to go visit with the wife.  She gets handed the spending plan on a piece of paper to review and make changes to.  She can make any and all changes she wants so long as she makes the ending numbers result in all money being spent.  I try to insist she makes at least one change because she can’t really agree with me on everything.  Can she?  Maybe I’m just totally awesome if she does :).  Anyway I keep quiet and say nothing because I’ve already gone over it.

With the monthly spending plan in place we both agree that nothing gets spent outside these categories without first talking to each other.  Another reason we will talk later is that say we spend all of our grocery money; we’ll need to find where to take money from to cover the shortage.

I’ve enjoyed working together with my wife on this spending plan a LOT!

Our Debt

October 29, 2007

     I’ve been debating whether I wanted this information on a blog that others could see, for the past couple months actually.  In the end I decided it really doesn’t matter if anyone sees it, this is mainly for me to keep track of but at the same time would be nice if anyone reads this to see them.  I’m just your average guy with a family (of 6) that is trying to get out of debt and be in control of my money.

Credit Cards       11119.88
Student Loans    5578.31
Vehicle                 13652.47
                Total   30350.66

Notes – All those numbers are from 6-1-07.

Credit Cards – These initially weren’t an issue before I got laid off in 2000, but then we started using them to support ourselves.  Since then it has just been too easy using them for wants instead of practicing better self control.

Student Loans – Pure stupid tax here as I’m not using the education in ways that I got the loans for.  However, I wouldn’t be who I am today with going through the experience.

Vehicle – We bought a new van for the wife and family a few years ago.  This wasn’t the best decision but with some recent bad luck with used cars paying extra for the security was well worth it.  Yes, the value goes down once you drive it off the lot we did think long term in wanting to keep the vehicle until it falls apart.