I really wanted to finish the deck this past weekend, but I came up just a few bucks shy in the budget. I didn’t keep a detailed tally for this project, but I’m pretty sure I stand at $75 now. And well worth every penny, I might add! I just need a few slats for the trash-concealing wall, and a pressure-treated board for the step, and I’m done. $15, maybe? Still, I have just enough money for gas to get me to payday, so I had to put the final work on the back burner. Until then, it’s totally functional and not bad looking if I do say so myself. But can I just say how badly I want to get those cinder blocks out of my life?!
But back to my budget.
I worked very hard to stick to my budget during the early months of the year, but it didn’t take long for me to start slacking. Not that I went on a big spending spree or anything. I just stopped paying attention like a should. OK, and maybe I took a bit out of savings here and there. And maybe I charged some things when I should have paid cash. It takes so little to lose control, doesn’t it?
So here we sit on the cusp of autumn. The heat comes back on in a couple of months, and my health savings account(aka premium-paying account) is about to hit zero. I’m hardly headed for the poor house, but these little heart palpitations I’m having remind me that it’s time to get serious again.
I’ve trimmed my discretionary spending about as far as it can go, though there are still a few more cuts I can make. My smartphone contract expires December 1, so I’m going back to Tracfone (where one year’s worth of service costs less that 2 months with Verizon), and I’ll give up the DVD delivery portion of Netflix. I can even raise my tax withholding a notch or two. Still, we’re only talking $100 thereabouts. Nothing to sneeze at when it’s time to pay the bills, but hardly high finance.
Of course, I could get a part-time job. But let’s not be too hasty!
What I need to work on now is sticking with my original budget. And I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that my most out-of-control budget category is food. I don’t plan, I’m impulsive, and I waste food. Sadly, I have to admit that I am typically American in this regard. But this is about to change.
My mom turned me on to a fantastic blog this weekend called http://www.poorgirleatswell.com/. True to its name, the blogger is a poor girl who likes to eat well. Her site is filled with simple recipes using high quality food. Best of all, she posts the cost per serving – most often falling between $1.50 and $2.50. Seriously. I’m completely and utterly inspired! I haven’t had time to assess her process yet, but I’m pretty sure that the secret of her success is planning and not over buying. Under The $25 Shopping Cart tab, you can see how she allocates her money. I saw one line item for .76 pounds of beef. When is the last time you actually bought the exact amount of meat you needed? (OK, well never for me, but I’m sure I would if I ate meat). And when’s the last time you bought an excessive amount of produce only to have most of it go bad? (I’m pretty sure this happened just last week).
This could not have been a more timely discovery for me to make. So, thank you Mom….and thank you, Poor Girl, for your inspiration. I am going to do my best to follow her lead by cutting my spending and raising the quality of my food purchases. I’ll be sure to post my successes (and failures) as I tighten the belt just one more notch.