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I hate money. Well… I love money, but I hate money. I say that because no matter how well I tried to manage our budget, it seemed to go haywire at least once a month.
I used to have a really good handle on our money. In fact, we were comfortable for a long time and set ourselves up pretty well for me to stay home right before my second daughter was born.
And then we had a third daughter.
And decided to move.
Into a “fixer – upper” on a good day and a “money pit” on a bad.
Somewhere in the adding of kids, stress of a move, and the constant money that has to be thrown at this house just to make it livable, I started to lose complete control of the check register.
And that always makes me very, very nervous. In fact, it made me sick.
So I told my husband that we needed a new method of managing what was leaving our house, and we needed it NOW!
Late one night, we sat down in an attempt to stop the bleeding.
Here are the 5 steps we took to get things back under control:
1) He gives me all of his receipts for what he spends every day. For years, I have opened up our account and been shocked that the balance is lower than I thought. I realized that I was guessing what he was spending but not really getting it right. And the amounts I was “off” was hurting. So now, he walks in and drops his receipts in a bowl in the kitchen. I take them, add them into the register and am not so shocked when I look at our balances. And it helps me know exactly what I can spend!
2) I balance the checkbook more than twice a month! I got to where I was only balancing the checkbook when bills were due. So twice a month. Not only did that make the chore of balancing the checkbook HUGE, it made it impossible to balance with so many entries. So, I now try to balance at least once a week, if not more. It has made my life so much easier!
3) I LOVE Autopay! Seriously, I can not believe how wonderful it is to have my bills automatically come out of my account twice a month! I also put our savings deposits on auto deposit, and my kids college deposits on auto pay. And if I need to change anything or stop a payment, I just click a button! Auto pay prevents late fees and reduces my stress level by a ton!
4) I have fallen back in love with coupons! Or as I call them… money in the Sunday paper! I am saving, on average, 45% on my grocery bill per month! That is HUGE in my house! Sure, it takes a little time to sit down, go through my list and match my coupons but there is no better feeling than watching a $250 grocery bill get cut to $89 bucks all at once. And it gives my pocket book a much needed break!
5) Be honest! When my husband and I really sat down and looked at what we were spending, we were surprised at the amount of waste in our budget. So we cut. My cell phone was $70 a month for 450 minutes and no data and 250 texts! YES! So, I was honest. What did I use it for? Calling and the occasional text? So, I ditched my plan, bought a prepaid from Walmart and am saving $45 a month. And I have 1000 minutes, a data plan, and 1000 texts. Perfect.
By the time we were done “being honest” we had found over $200 in our budget that we could easily live without.
And that makes me very, very happy!
These are just some small things that we have done to get our budget under control. What tips and tricks do you have or use to keep your families budgets from managing you?