This is a great post by my friend Christina!
I just finished recording all of my spending for December and whoops, I managed to go over my grocery budget almost $100! That is huge, because my budget is only $325 every month (including diapers). I also noticed I went over my Christmas budget and then the microwave died and had to be replaced…. ouch! I am in need of some serious spending adjustment for January. I haven’t made a lot of goals for the new year, but here is my January budget challenge. You may choose to accept it (and feel free to make your own modifications).
Reduce my January grocery budget by $125 and spend only $50 a week. Plan meals for the entire month using my stockpile and what’s on sale. I am going to tentatively map out meals for the entire month and adjust them weekly based on the deals I get. I have gotten lazy over time and have not been doing my meal plans and as a result, I end up spending more at the grocery making last minute meal decisions.
No extracurricular shopping!! I once read a story Ms. Cheap wrote about a woman who did no extra shopping for an entire year! If she can do that, surely I can hold off for one month. I will make an exception for two particular clearance sales I know will happen in mid-January. Everything else can just wait.
Re-work my budget to build in an extra cushion. I had a cushion, but it’s not nearly enough, based on last month’s emergencies. If you don’t have a budget at all and don’t know where to start, I would highly recommend any resource by Dave Ramsey. Most of his books have budget worksheets in the back and they are fairly simple to use. I transferred his format to Excel and customized it for our family.
Plan to save all year long for Christmas. Again, I was doing this in 2008 but I didn’t save enough. So in January, it’s time to start the 2009 Christmas fund again! While I’m at it, I’m going to re-visit my other categories where I save a little every month towards big bills (I save for auto repairs and life insurance, you might have different categories).
Enjoy what I already own. I was convicted over Christmas that we all just have too much stuff! In January, I need to give some of it away, use up what we already have, and enjoy some things I haven’t used in awhile. I plan to go through cds and listen to some older music, work through a pile of books I’ve never read, and play some board games I haven’t opened in a long time. I’m going to help my kids do some of the same and give them more of my time instead of more new stuff.
Join me in this challenge, or make up your own financial challenge. I’ll give you an update on how I did in February!