I’m going to be honest. Things have been tight around the Barker household lately. I know, most people think money is personal and shouldn’t be talked about in public, but I don’t mind talking about it at all. We just got my new car, so there’s a new car payment each month. Then shortly after that we found out about our septic issue, which I’ve posted about before, which is going to cost us over $1600 to fix this week. If we had savings, this probably wouldn’t be a problem, but we don’t so we have to figure out where that money is coming from because we don’t have $1600 sitting in our account at the end of each month. Right now, we live off of Blaine’s income only. While he makes plenty for us to live off of, we need to get our financials to a much healthier place for the future. Anything I make goes directly back into Kintage and it will probably be that way for a while, that’s how it goes when you’re starting a business.
After the wedding, honeymoon and all the house stuff we’ve had to pay for in the past year, funds are already pretty used up each month. Now? We’re in budgeting extreme mode. We’ve wracked up a little bit (coughtoomuchcough) of credit card debt over the last couple of years that we’re trying to pay off, but now with everything happening all at once we haven’t been able to pay much more than the minimums on those cards. We don’t want to keep piling on top of that debt by charging more when we’re in a rut (like now), so we’ve created a budget and everything we have left over will go to pay stuff off until the only debt we have left is our mortgage, student loans and car payments. We’ll also be trying to get a savings account going, we want to plan for emergencies so we don’t have to use credit at all in the future.
So we’ve put ourselves on a tight, tight budget. May is a test run to see how much we really need each month to live. When I went to the grocery store at the beginning of the month, I spent $50 on groceries and then I withdrew $120 and that’s what we’re trying to live off of through the month for food and entertainment. Let’s just say it’s now the 8th and we’re down to $70. Yikes. We are two people, we should be able to live off of that easily! I’m know there are families with a couple of children who spend less each month. We will be fine. Obviously if we find ourselves out of food with literally nothing to eat or in need of something important like toilet paper, we can get more money out. But I’m actually enjoying our little challenge so far and I think by the end of the month we’ll be getting creative with the food we have in the house so we don’t have to shop as much.
You see, saying you’re keeping track of money going out when you’re using your debit card for everything is way too easy. Blaine was skeptical about the whole cash thing, thinking that it didn’t make a difference whether we were using our cards or cash, but I think he’s seeing that somehow using cash makes us more frugal. Seeing that $70 in my wallet for the next 23 days is helping me to plan better and it’s keeping us both from suggesting to go out to eat which we used to do way too often. I can safely say we probably, on average, spend at least $200 a month eating out and don’t even realize it.
At the end of the month, we’ll evaluate how much we actually need for the budget each month for and we’ll continue to use cash. I hope to be able to follow through with this at least until everything is paid off, maybe even longer.
Do you have any tips on budgeting or saving money? Or are you like us and a wee bit irresponsible with it?
I do the cash thing. Deposit only what will go toward bills, take out spending money in cash. Leave credit cards at home. Cut out movies (they really cost so much) and use our Netflix instant (cost of one movie ticket for tons of options) and Redbox for newer stuff. Go out to the parks more. I also budget everything every month and break down my income so I know exactly what needs to go where…because I’m a photographer, I have to budget by gig, not by paycheck.
Thanks for the tips, Fenn! I’m loving this way of budgeting so far, I’m sure we’ve already saved ourselves at least $100 in indulgent or splurge spending.
We have Netflix too and do Redbox a couple of times a month. Luckily movies are cheap here $6/person ($4 matinee) so we do that once in a while if something we want to see is out since it’s the same price for the 2 of us to go as it is for 1 of us to go back where we used to live.