Last January (2011), I shared some of my thoughts and plans after having re-evaluated our household budget. Having a plan in place to change even just a handful of our practices or habits has helped keep our budget on track throughout the year. I thought I'd give an update on last year's goals and brainstorm areas where I still want to improve.
My goal last year was to budget tightly enough to save for the "extras" that pop up in life -- like a new baby, vehicle repairs, medical things, etc. (Speaking of "medical things", Joshua's surgery this week went well [praise GOD!] and he is home recovering. He'll have a second surgery in February, and should be able to return to work in April.)
My plan for 2011 included:
Continue having 1 vehicle -- did this all year and are continuing :)
Continue having only basic phone service (no cell phones or long distance) -- same
Continue having Netflix (no TV, no movies, and no other movie rentals or purchases) -- Canceled Netflix in August, 2011
Continue menu planning -- did better, but not 100% on this
Discontinue restaurant/take-out eating (none, vs. the 6-8 times per year for the past couple of years) -- We ate out (as a family) twice, Joshua got take-out twice, and we got hot dogs at Costco 4-5 times, so... not really an improvement, but not too bad :)
Go to Costco every 2 weeks instead of every week -- we averaged shopping every 10-14 days, so much better than weekly! :)
Spend only $420/month on food/household/toiletries -- this has increased to $500/month; I'm just not sure what else I want to cut when it comes to groceries...
Continue to keep the heat at 64 or lower -- we did this, but getting the furnace repaired (by the landlord) ended up reaping much bigger savings, yay!
Wash towels and whites in cold water instead of hot (use a few drops of bleach instead) -- I went back to hot water for whites/towels, 1 load per week
Take shorter showers (this is a hard one for me!) -- I've been taking fewer showers, not that that's a good thing... ;)
Get Ruth potty trained (she's in Pull-Ups) -- did this in February, yay! :)
Go back to cloth diapers for Moshe (used disposables during December) -- went back to cloth diapers full-time and continued, aside from a 2-day break (just while flying to Ohio/to Seattle to visit my family)
Take a year-long break from buying stuff (we have so much already!) -- I *mostly* did this. Joshua got me a few gifts, though! :)
Shop around to see if we can get a cheaper car insurance rate -- looked into this but didn't make any changes
Recycle anything possible -- done
Call trash service and downgrade to smallest, customer-provided can (saving $7/month) -- did this, and have been able to fit our trash in the tiny can every week! :)
Get landlord to fix dripping faucet in bathroom -- fixed
Figure out how to pay bills online to save stamps -- found a couple I can pay online without extra charges :)
Continue blogging -- I mostly did this, in my bad-blogger way...
Get my recipe e-book finished -- Definitely did not get this done. I let too many things be my excuses/reasons not to make time to work on it...
Eating Well, Spending Less in 2012
I don't know how many times we've gone over our household budget and...
...the only category it seems we can realistically fiddle with is the food/household items budget.
While I don't think I can actually reduce this year's food budget (can we say growing kids?!), I want to do more without spending more.
Specific ways I plan to accomplish this:
1. Continue to spend nearly all of our food/household budget money on food (instead of things like diapers!), which is one of the ways we eat well and stay within-budget.
2. Continue to go grocery shopping every 2 weeks (or even less often). This practice, especially, means I have to plan ahead -- which is a good thing.
3. Continue to plan menus, focusing on using fresh food at its peak, not wasting anything, and eating lots of affordable foods like beans and carrots. :)
4. Resist buying foods that are expensive but don't provide good nutrition.
5. Do more freezer cooking, and not just for "special occasions" like surgery or having a baby.
6. Introduce new kitchen tasks to the children as they grow older. Yehoshua will be 8 in April, and Eliyahu is 6 -- they could be more helpful and independent if I took more time to teach them to cook. Starting beans in the crock pot, making a pot of oatmeal for breakfast, or getting carrots ready to cook are some of the things I'd like to get them doing more regularly and independently! :)
7. Finally perfect a homemade chicken broth (from the bones after making roasted chicken). I've attempted a few times and didn't care for the results. :(
8. Try to limit desserts more than we already do. Desserts tend to be unhealthy and expensive, anyway. :)
This month's Eat Well, Spend Less series posts are on the topic of New Year's Food/Kitchen Resolutions! Check out what these ladies are sharing:
Amy at Kingdom First Mom