About Me

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Mother of 2 and wife to Travis.I am a Jill of all trades,master of none. I like to dabble in everything, so follow me on my journey; raising kids, working towards a healthier lifestyle, new recipes, menus, homeschooling, crafts,enjoying our home the Great Smoky Mountains, etc...What we call...LIFE :-)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Being Frugal- My Way

I have had several people ask me questions about how we budget, how we live on one income. How I organize things and plan ahead, why do I coupon,etc.. Well this is the post where I will tell you all. It's going to be long...I am going to start with 10 things that we do that save us money/time etc...

 * You have to have a budget!It doesn't matter how much or how little you make, everyone has to have a budget.  Sit down and write out all income for a month, then write out all of your expenses for a month. (This is everything, if you stop and get a coffee every morning that needs to be budgeted in). There are also sites online that can help you with this.
 One thing that really makes life smoother is the fact that I KNOW where every penny goes from our income. If you are only making 3,000 a month but you have 4,500 worth of bills/expenses you need to back up and punt again!
Set a realistic budget for your groceries and stick with it. For my family of 4 we spend $100 a week on groceries/toiletries/household items(yes that includes diapers,wipes,cleaning supplies,etc..)

We do live off one full time income in our house right now, and we are OK with that! In fact it has worked out great! When I lost my job in 2011 we immediately thought "Oh no, what are we going to do?" But it ended up being the best thing! I stay home with Brother while Sissy is at school and Big Daddy is at work. This is where being frugal has REALLY came in to play and worked out for the best!
We also do not have any credit cards(we learned early).

2. Envelope System
   * I started doing this years ago and we love it. I take out money when the check is cashed and I separate out to the different envelopes. When the money is gone from the envelope it's gone!
My envelopes are: Groceries,Running Money,Bills. Then when something specific is coming up I will make an envelope for that, Birthdays,School clothes,Christmas,etc...

3. Coupons/Meal Plan/Stockpile
   *These 3 things will save you the most time and money in the long run! Learning to coupon can be confusing/rough in the beginning but once you get the hang of it you will save loads of money. There are lots of sites that will walk you through this process, my #1 being  The longer you do it you will start recognizing what's a good deal on your own. You can't be brand specific and you have to shop at more than one store!

   *Meal Planning really doesn't take that much time either and it makes life so much easier! I am a planner...with everything. I do not like the feeling/anxiety I get if I don't have a plan and 5pm rolls around and I don't know what I am going to feed my family or I start cooking to realize that I don't have everything. Here is a link to a post I did a while back about HOW I menu plan. My menu planning
Also think of how much money your family will save if you are not eating out 4-5 times a week!

   *The true key to lowering you grocery bill is to have a stockpile. Stockpiling is simply buying groceries/household goods at their rock bottom price and buying enough to last your family until the go on sale at rock bottom price again.
Most of the items in my stockpile are items we use a lot so they get rotated out fairly quickly. #1 tip is to not try to fill your stockpile all at once! Let it build over time as the sales come in!
*Picture of my stockpile at the bottom of page*

 * Also be sure to check the clearance/markdown sections every time you go in a store.

4. Yard Sales/Thrift Stores/Goodwill/Craigslist etc... 
   *People ask me why I like to thrift shop and go to Yard Sales and I say because I save a TON of money!
I really do not understand why so many people waste money on new clothes/shoes/toys/house decor etc.. all the time. All of these items I find at Yard Sales and Thrift shops and they are just as good as new store bought items. I can get name brand items cheaper doing this than I could if I went to Walmart and bought all new items! When Goodwill has their 50% off everything in the store I can find nice housewares items very cheap,clothes,gifts,etc...
The only time we buy new items are if we need something specific and tennis shoes. Which I buy 3 times a year(a friend shared this one with me) We buy tennis shoes when school starts, Christmas, and in the Spring.

5. Sell old to buy new
  *We have a yard sale once a year. I also have Yard Sale sites on Facebook that I sell lots of things on too. Sell all the clothes your kids have outgrown and toys they don't play with etc... Now, take THAT money and put up for school clothes, new shoes, Christmas, etc.. We do not use our Yard Sale money to pay bills unless it is an absolute must.

6. Tax Return
  * We get a tax return every year. And we utilize it! We use it to pay House Insurance, Life Insurance, Land Taxes, pay ahead on vehicle(we stay 3 months ahead),  Sissys Birthday(because it's in March) and we pay what bills we can and then the rest goes in the bank to have in case of emergencies. (car maintenance, unexpected expenses, etc..)

 * You do not have to have something right here right now, just because you want it!
 I really want a new oven(mine is around 30 years old), but I have to have a wall oven and they are around $7-800 dollars! So I have been patiently waiting hoping I will stumble on one at a yard sale or a thrift store, and saving my money! This goes for everything but mainly in more expensive purchases. I like to wait it out, do some research,save some money,etc.. before buying. This is another reason why we do not have credit cards, I know a lot of people when they want something they just go get it and put it on the credit card. We try not to buy anything unless we have cash for it.

8. Plan Ahead
 * Some things come every year no matter what Birthdays,Christmas, other holidays,school clothes,teacher gifts,Summer Activities,etc... You know it's going to be there so plan ahead for it! Buy things through out the year! If your child gets a gift that they really aren't interested in hold on to it and re-gift it! I watch every yard sale/thrift store etc.. for anything new that I can give as a gift!

9. Lists/Calenders/Organize
 * I have lists for EVERYTHING, I have a list for THIS post I am typing now :-)
I have to have a list for everything that I do, if not I will forget(but mainly because I like the satisfaction I get of crossing something off a list when I am done)  :-)  Keeping lists keeps you on top of things! Write down that those coupons need clipped, and that you need to make a menu,what parts of the house need cleaned now, etc..
I have 3 calendars(yes 3) I have one that I keep track of just bills/money and when they are due and when we will needs extra money.(For events,Birthdays,Holidays,etc..) I have one I keep on the fridge that I change out month to month and that's where we keep track of appointments for that month, sports,school events,etc.. Then Momma has a Master calender that keeps track of everything for the year! Sometimes you don't want your kid to see that you are POSSIBLY going somewhere next week because they will drive you nuts about it, or worse you end up not being able to go! And this way I can write down appointments that get schedules 3-6 months out, and plan family activities,etc..

 10. Learn from others
 * This is one of my best pieces of advice. Ask questions, all the time. Learn  a new way of doing things,etc..  One of the reasons I am good with my money is because I have learned from watching others of how I do not want to manage it.
Go to Coupon Classes/Frugal Fairs even if you think you know whats being discussed you might learn something new! :-)
I have coupon buddies, that have turned in to friends just from discussing coupons and ways to save money.

**Since my stockpile is what I get asked about the most, here is a picture. I will go in depth more on the next post about what I stock and how much and what determines that. So please come back and check that out! :-)

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