O.k…It’s 14 days into the New Year, and I must admit that this whole money saving, cutting back expenses resolution is quite challenging.

 

Truthfully, I’ve been trying to pinch pennies here and there, but starting out the year, I was just “winging it” when it came to my finances. Trust me, I know better, but like most people who juggle work and family responsibilities, I haven’t had time to really focus.  So I took about 30 minutes on a Monday night to revisit my budget and make some modifications to accommodate my current household income.  I’m the kind of person who likes to keep track of my expenses by writing everything in a notebook, but I tried something new.  I used the Budget Planner under Tools & Tips on the CareOne site to calculate my current expenses as compared to my income. I wasn’t sure how I’d like this online budgeting tool, but I was amazed at how easy it is to use.

 

Lately my household income has decreased as Dear Hubby continues his job search since recently relocating.   In an effort to avoid taking on debt and to rebuild that emergency savings fund, we dipped into during the relocation process, I’m going to have to do more than just casually try to reduce my everyday spending.  Using the Budget Planner helped me identify spending categories that I can make significant cut backs on.  The following are the first three strategies I’m using to reduce my spending.  (I’m the kinda girl who needs small goals that build upon each other to accomplish a major task. I get frustrated if I make drastic changes and don’t see immediate results.)

 

  1. When purchasing groceries (food items) I’m buying store brand generics.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I still am splurging on my favorite name-brand tooth paste and toilet paper, but when it comes to important food staples, I’m sticking with the store brand.  Seriously, I can’t tell the difference between generic and name brand food items when it comes to taste.  But I can sure tell that purchasing generic items is making a difference in my pocket book. 
  2. No more eating out!  Yes, dining out is convenient and stress free, but wow is it expensive.  It definitely takes more planning and preparation to fix a home cooked meal, but it is so much cheaper.  So we don’t feel too deprived, we allow ourselves to go to a restaurant once per week. We select reasonably priced restaurants that have early bird specials, and we skip the glass of wine.
  3. Remove Temptation.  I just love shopping this time year! The great after-holiday sales and major markdowns are my weakness.  But this year, I don’t have the extra cash to spare for unplanned purchases, so I’m completely staying away from the malls.  I’m usually happy to be a window shopper, but half-price and 70 percent off sales are too much for me to resist.  So I just don’t even go there.  I’m focusing on the wonderful things I do have, like the great books I received for holidays. Reading is a wonderful distraction for me – I always learn something new, and it keeps me occupied so I don’t entertain myself by shopping.

 

I realize this is just a starting point for me, but I am seeing some initial progress. I haven’t had to whip out a credit card for any purchase, and I’ve actually put a VERY small amount of money into my emergency savings fund. 

 

I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I continue my cost cutting journey in 2008