As I work towards figuring out my new monthly budget I realize that more so now than ever it is very important to be “accountable” for where all my money goes each month. So I make a lot of lists and notes. I’ve always done this, I think it’s a genetic trait because my sister has notebooks full of lists and budgets. My friends make fun of me when I go on vacation, because I have a tendency to write down what I spend at the end of every day just to help me budget through the trip. Yes it sounds ridiculous, but it helps.
Anyways some advice I was given by my notebook writing sister on setting up a budget was to follow the 70/20/10 plan, which basically says 70% of your income goes to bills, 20% to savings that’s broken down into (10% for retirement, 5% emergencies, 5% specific goals) and the last 10% for debt. I’m awful at percentages so check out this website it offers a more thorough explanation as well as great resources on how to save money in all types of categories.
I’ve always found it helpful to make a list of my monthly bills and list which pay period I pay them from. I also have a list of what is due annually/quarterly and the months I can expect those bills to show up. This helps me break down my monthly take home pay into what must go where and when I need to save up for things like car insurance which I pay quarterly. The rest I try to put in savings, and as wage increases have been available I have worked on increasing the amount that I put towards my retirement.
Lists can be useful in more areas than you think. I’ve realized by packing my kitchen contents for my move, that I just stock up on too much stuff. I’ve decided to really try and be diligent with sticking with a grocery list, and with not putting things on the list until I actually run out of what I have. Another tip that I’ve heard from others is to make a weekly menu and then shop only for what is on the menu. I know I am the world’s worst for buying fruits and vegetables with no specific purpose for them and then they go to waste. So hopefully sticking to the lists will help save me money and avoid the inexcusable amount of food that currently ends up in the compost bin.
Also for grocery budgets I found a great site that budgets the costs of meals served per serving. It lists all types of recipes and I really want to try to make a few of them, especially the bread. I’m excited about baking in my new kitchen, its nice to know that I could make tortillas for .04 cents a serving.
Seeing meals broken down by ingredients costs makes me think wow, I can make a lot of the things I currently buy a lot cheaper! Eating at home more is definitely one of ways I can save money as well as packing leftovers for lunch instead of the current frozen meals that I buy. I guess those suggestions are rather obvious but we have become such a society of convenience lovers that we are willing to spend so much more on pre-made, prepackaged unhealthy stuff. If we prepared more food from scratch or even semi-homemade we would not only see the money saving benefits but the health benefits as well. I have been fortunate to be able to supply the majority of my vegetable needs the last few summers, I really enjoy the process and who doesn’t love a good home grown tomato. Gardening has initial costs each year, but overall it saves a lot of money throughout the season, and if your fortunate enough to be able to preserve some of your harvest you can enjoy those savings all year round.