Establishing a Budget…Ahh!!!!!!!

Budgeting. That used to be a dreaded word for me. My husband would say, “We need to get on a budget,” and I would insist that it wasn’t necessary all while we were living month to month with no savings. What was I thinking?! One day I heard about Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. After reading about a few success stories, I decided to read this book. Wow! After reading this book, I realized how completely money ignorant I was and my husband and I decided to establish a plan for our total money makeover. I won’t go into the details of what Dave Ramsey recommends; however, if you do not have a financial plan or your current financial plan is not working, I highly suggest this book!

Reading this book led us to begin an envelope system. Each month we divide our money into carefully labeled and categorized envelopes. We make the majority of our purchases from the money in these envelopes. This system has completely changed my mindset on spending money! Using cash allows you to see how much money you have left, and it ensures that you are more careful with how you spend and what you spend.

I am telling you all this, because I would like to share my philosophy behind using coupons. Sure you can use coupons and save tons of money, but what good is it if you still spent more than you should? When I first started couponing, I made this mistake…then, I read The Total Money Makeover. Now I realize that I need to be able to save money all while staying within a budget that is within our means. I would like to share our monthly grocery budget with you for two reasons. First, I want the accountability. Secondly, I hope that my sharing our budget will help you decide on a budget that is appropriate for you and your family.

I use a grocery budget that is a little different from most and so it is a little confusing. I will do my best to explain it. Our monthly grocery budget is $300. I spend $50 per week on groceries (my grocery budget week runs from Wednesday through Tuesday to coincide with Publix sales). Depending on how the month falls that will leave me with a $50-$100 surplus. I allot this money for shopping at Costco where I purchase meat, wipes, and other occasional items when they are more economical. This extra money could also be used for purchasing other items at other stores – sometimes, I use this fund for diapers, etc. Here is an example of this month’s budget:

May 1 through May 5 (this week really started on April 29) – $50
May 6 through May 12 – $50
May 13 through May 19 – $50
May 20 through May 26 – $50
May 27 through May 31 (really June 2) – $50
Costco (or other needs) surplus – $50

It seems a little complicated, but it really is not, and I cannot tell you how much less stressful it has made life! I know that for some of you $300 a month budget might sound crazy! A year ago I would have completely agreed with you, but today, now that I have learned to maximize my savings while minimizing my spending, I think that this is a completely reasonable total and the crazy thing is…we have more food than we did when we were spending $800 a month!

So here is what I spent last week (April 29 through May 5):

Publix = $14.59
img00262-publix-april-301

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Food World = $4.91 (Not pictured: 3 – Hefty aluminum pan 3 pks)
img00266-food-world-5-2-09
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Target = $8.75 (Plus $5.00 gift card for buying 5 Kellogg’s cereals)
img00268-1target-5-2-09
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Publix = $14.45
img00270-publix-5-3-09
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CVS = $5.70 (not pictured)

2 Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes @ $6.67
Used 2 $1.00/1 MC
Total = $4.67

1 Nutri-Grain Bars @ $3.33

*Used $3 ECB’s
*Earned $5 ECB’s
_____________________________________________________
Grand total for the week = $48.40 ($1.60 under budget!) + I earned $5 ECB’s and a $5 Target gift card!

I hope this is helpful to you! Let me know if you have any budgeting tips!

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