Stretching a Budget

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As I referred in a past post, budgeting has been a big obstacle for my family this year.  It seems like all I’ve been doing is “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.  So, a few weeks ago, I settled down and really looked at where my money was going.  I wasted so much on stupid stuff, primarily getting junk food at the local gas station (my beloved Dr. Pepper Polar Pop and bags of either Chex Mix or Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn).

So now on days I have these cravings, I simply use cash.  If I feel the need to have a Polar Pop, I have to come up with the 74 cents it takes to purchase it.  No more putting it on a credit card or debit card.  Cold. Hard. Cash.

This has helped a great deal.

But then a week and a half ago, on a day when I was feeling really good about myself (I had called in to pay off a debt… like one of our biggest ones… I was so incredibly proud of myself) and then 4 hours later while driving home from work I get a call from my husband that he lost his job.  I’ve been in stress mode ever since.  So, later this week we will go back to this as I find ways go de-stress (because Lord knows, I need it).

Anyhow – it’s funny how you hear through the grapevine the best places to grocery shop for your family when you are trying to maintain a budget.  I have always been bad about going to a bunch of different places to get the best prices but I can honestly say last week I went to the main grocery store I always go too, got enough food to make 2 weeks worth of meals and only spent $111 and some change.  Granted, most of the items purchased were on sale – as we had $69 worth of savings using one of the rewards cards.

Now hubby did go to another store to get chicken breasts as a competitor did have a better price, but it wasn’t by much, because all in all we only saved about a $1.50.

And this week we have picked up a few items – with the kids now being out of school, Eggo waffles were on sale so we’ve gone twice now to pick up a couple of boxes (they can’t get enough waffles).

So I guess the moral of the story is this:  choose foods on sale and stock up on the foods when they are on sale and you can easily purchase a decent amount of food to make a number of meals.  I still check all the ads and pick which grocery store will save me the most money and this really seems to help.  One store seems to do better with meats, others with produce.  But that’s okay – I’ll do what I can to get the most bang for my buck.

Is this common sense? Yes, but so many don’t start with easier tasks to get to the final destination.

Another huge help has been explaining our situation to the children, and this has surprisingly made life easier with their not constantly asking me if they can have this or that.

Life is a struggle at the moment, but we will survive!  I’ll share another budgeting tip next Monday!

 

Wednesday = Accountability

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So today I’m taking a huge leap… I’m confessing my weight to the world.  I’m going to state the digit out there for all the world to know (gulp!) and try (BIG try) to lose weight and share what works and what doesn’t with all of you.

Now I am fortunate that my hubby’s work allows us to join a gym… but with his umpiring as a second job to pay for said truck that has overextended us (see this past Monday’s post) it doesn’t give me a lot of time to go and work out (the children need someone home still).  So when I begin exercising, it will be a combination of stuff I can do at home along with classes I can join along with there.

So here it is… the big number… which is big, but I know it could be worse.  I weigh, according to the scale in my bathroom…. 195.6 pounds.  Wow, look at that… I’m still standing.  The world hasn’t come crashing down around me.

Then again, I haven’t hit the magic “Publish” button yet either.

Last night I was able to get the last of the ice cream out of my house and today I went ahead and allowed myself my final Dr. Pepper Polar Pop (purchased with quarters found around the house).  Tomorrow I will do better…. a return to eggs, oatmeal, and some other kind of nutritious breakfast I need to find to give me variety.

Is there anything good you like to eat for breakfast when you are trying to lose weight?  What about lunch – I’m always up for new ideas and would appreciate anything you can share.

And hopefully blogging every day as I try to do this won’t freak anyone out… maybe if I report EVERYTHING I do I won’t be as horrible at falling off the wagon.  So along with the above weight – here are my measurements:

  • Arms – 13″
  • Hips – 44″
  • Thighs – 27-3/4″
  • Waist – 39-1/2″

The last one always hurts – I never had a tummy until I had my kids.  Have always been a hip and thigh girl though – just like my Grandma!

I will also keep accountable at Sparkpeople.com – if you use the website, let me know in the comments below – we can friend each other and cheer ourselves towards our goals!

Don’t forget – if you have any nutritious breakfast or lunch ideas that pass picky people’s taste testing – let me know!  I get bored very easy (which is why I have Dr. Pepper and Chex Mix for breakfast so often).

I can do this!!!!!

My before picture:

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I found the following quote in a search – and I know it’s the ultimate taboo to use other people’s art – but I like the butterflies and I always try to credit and link what I borrow from others (so maybe I won’t get in as much trouble).  So here is this quote – I thought it was perfect for myself today, it’s from the website Great Minds Think Fit:

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Hopefully today is the first of many lucky days!

 

Money Monday$

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Budgeting.  

That is one of those evil words that can be so intimidating.  It’s one of those annoying things in life you have to have.

And my family is at a point right now where we need to budget every penny we have.

Why?

Because lately life has been overly stressful trying to make ends meet.  It all began last fall when hubby bought himself a pretty new truck.  Trouble was, it is way out of our league as far as money we bring in and our spending habits.  At the time he was in charge of paying the bills and so things went from bad to worse. When asked if he could get it, I repeatedly said… “You’re paying the bills, you know what we can afford.”

Apparently my subtle insinuation of “if you don’t think we can pay the monthly payment, don’t get the truck” didn’t make it’s way through his thick skull.

So here we are, scrambling.  So as I do what needs to be done to make my family of 4 (sometimes 5) balanced each month (so I can stop robbing Peter to pay Paul, as they say), I’ll share with you what I learn.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Budgeting.  

According to Nerdwallet.com – you can create a budget in 4 simple steps:

  1. Calculate your monthly income
  2. List your monthly expenses
  3. Subtract your expenses from your income
  4. Set goals and allocate your additional money

Are you like me and thinking that is way too simple of a process?

So I went to another website, Cozi.com,  as they caught my attention strictly because when my only electronic device was my Nook, it had an app where I could put a grocery list into Cozi and my husband could actually check off the list at the grocery store on his iPhone… so if something came up at the last minute he often would see the additional item and all would be well with the world.

Anyhow, Cozi had 6 steps in their list:

  1. Write down your financial goals.
  2. Record every single purchase you make, without exception.
  3. Create your spending categories.
  4. Hold a budget meeting (with your spouse)
  5. Schedule a time to create your budget
  6. Tweak your budget at the beginning of every month.

I liked this one a little better, simply because this is what I did recently.  Not so much as I was spending the money, but I designated all my spending for the month of April 2016 and wrote down every expense that came out of my bank account and listed it into the following categories:

  1. Crap (yes, every stupid thing I bought that was completely unnecessary – like Chex Mix and a Polar Pop at the Gas Station before work)
  2. Fast Food
  3. Credit Cards
  4. Groceries
  5. Utilities
  6. Mortgage
  7. Miscellaneous
  8. Insurance
  9. Gas (for the car)

The categories were quite the eye-opening.  Because I have an insane memory, I was honest and when I purchased the Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn at the same time I purchased gas, I split the 2 charges up and put the amounts where they actually needed to go.

It did not take me long to realize I spend a lot of funds on unnecessary conveniences.

One of the additional points that I liked about Cozi’s suggested points was Step 1 – writing down your financial goals.  They want you to list multiple ones.  Financial freedom is always a great reason to want to save money, but so are fun reasons – vacations!  These are your motivators to keep you on the straight and narrow – let these reasons be worth while!

Step 2 – they noted one category that is often overlooked – give yourself some weekly spending money… otherwise you will go nuts.  And they are right… you will.  Allowing yourself a weekly Polar Pop may just give you that tiny bit of sanity your world needs (or just the jolt of caffeine and sugar to keep you awake at work).

Step 4 – if you have a spouse, work on your budget with them.  This would be a huge laugher in my household.  I say this because my husband HATES discussing money. Actually, he dislikes discussing anything.  Whenever I need to have a serious conversation with him, he gets this blank look on his face and I realize he is no longer listening to anything I have to say.  Do any of you have this same problem with a spouse?  (I do recognize men can read this blog and maybe your wife is the same way as my husband – doesn’t it drive you crazy?).

For me Step 5 goes along with Step 4.  If you aren’t going to really, truly and honestly sit down and speak with your spouse in a meeting about the budget, do you really need them to schedule and create it?  For me, no.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t sit down with all my findings, show him what I came up with, what the game plan needs to be for us moving forward and tell him he needs to make sure he goes along with suggested changes to go along with our new budget.

And can I just say I love the fact that this list includes tweaking?  Face it, once we get motivated and start saving and spending in a far better pattern than our reckless ways once had us, you can always see where this could help you here, or this could be done there.

Remember, your budget isn’t written in stone.  You need to/can make adjustments accordingly to make life better for you and/or your family.

So, this week I am going to work on my goals, finish up separating my categories (I am a glutton for punishment and like to go back a couple of months) and next week we’ll try to focus on how to get the most bang for our buck at the grocery store.

Do you follow a budget?  Do you have any tips or suggestions you can share to make budgeting easier for me?  Please share in the comments below!

It’s Time to Get Real

So for the past few weeks I’ve discovered feeling jittery when I eat oatmeal or raisin bran for breakfast – about 90 minutes to 2 hours after I eat.  It began with my crappy breakfasts… Chex Mix and Dr. Pepper and I thought… Oh no!  Soda is finally doing bad things to me.  But then it happened with raisin bran (the good kind – Kellogg’s so you get 2 scoops of raisins and a spoonful of sugar to help the bran go down easier), and worse…. with just oatmeal.  I don’t drink juice as most I dislike (grape juice, all I like is Welch’s Grape Juice… the deep purple kind that stains).

So it’s funny when one does the Google Search medical diagnosis as it was the oatmeal search that got me “feeling jittery after breakfast” instead of after drinking soda or what have you, that made me realize my reality of diabetes is coming true.

Top it off 2 days later when I realized my doctor forgot to fill out the fasting blood sugar line on a paper that had to be faxed to the insurance company and I realized without a doubt that I am in the realm of pre-diabetes.

So here it is after a Friday filled with nothing but junk that I am feeling horribly guilty and just sick to my stomach about how awful I ate and I realize that this isn’t going to help me, drinking the Polar Pop may have helped keep me awake at work this afternoon but there has to be another way.  I need to start eating better.  I need to start losing weight.

Getting on the scale on Tuesday and gaining 1.4 pounds did not help.  It didn’t matter that in my head I knew girly things were happening and it was most likely the reason for my gain… IT DIDN”T MATTER.

But it has to matter.  I have to be able to take the good with the bad and stay focused.  It’s so hard to stay focused, though.

I had to prick my fingers when I was pregnant as I had gestational diabetes with both of my kids.  Oddly my second child turns 10 this year.  10 years later is when it normally happens.

So now the search begins to find a better diet so I don’t have to prick my fingers.  I need to eat right and lose weight and exercise and stop stressing over things and get in control of my life.  I look in the mirror and I hate what I see because the me in my head is a strong, non-chunky person… I hate the big belly I had (I never had a belly until I had kids – was always a hips and thighs person).  I hate the sloppy mess I have become because no matter what I wear I seem to always look unkempt and it drives me crazy.

There are just so many things I am unhappy about in my life right now… but I can only do 1 thing at a time.  It’s presently 9:17pm on Friday night.  Tomorrow, Saturday, is a new day.  Tomorrow I will start off with a better attitude, a better way of eating, and a better way seeing the world.

I have too… my sanity depends on it.  And I need to be a better example for my son, he is getting a belly and that needs to change as well. Granted it’s just my upper body – I’ll try to get a full body picture tomorrow, but here is me today –

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The other is facing marital problems.  I need to stand up for myself (and tell hubby just how miserable I am) it’s just getting the courage to tell him things need to change there too.

Aren’t you glad you aren’t me?

Until tomorrow….