Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Living on a budget - Part 2

Image from here
A few weeks ago I posted about our need to live on a tight budget at the moment.

We have been withdrawing cash from the bank after we get paid (I got the idea from a Kidspot article I read) and have to live off that until our next pay. Our bills are all scheduled to come out of our bank account, so the cash just has to cover groceries, train fares, lunch orders, the cleaner, sushi and donuts when we go to the local market to top up our veggies and my coke zero habit.

We have been doing this for three pay cycles now and what started out as being extremely restrictive has become surprisingly liberating. It was so hard to begin with; we almost ran out of money after my first grocery shop the first week! But we have gotten better at it.

I have been planning menus and creating shopping lists. Although I have always tried to do this, there are times when I just don't have time and race out to the grocery (and overspend!).  I have also been more analytical about the contents of meals and have been trying to make seasonal meals from the same group of ingredients to reduce wastage.

I have been making more vegetarian meals again too. Before I had kids I was a semi-vegetarian for many years (I enjoyed bacon and chicken occasionally) so I have been pulling out a few of the old recipes to reduce our meat intake (good for the earth, good for your health, and good for your budget so a triple star win!). I am going for Meatless Monday (last night it was leek frittata) and another meat-free day too. Our kids have grown up eating legumes as a staple so they are coping well.

I have been paying cash at the register too so if I don't have enough money, I have to make decisions about which items go back. It happened twice in the first week (and was extremely embarrassing) but I have adapted quickly to adding up the bill as I go and have come in on budget at each subsequent shop.

The liberating part has been the fact that we already have a small stockpile of cash in the bank account.  We went out for dinner with friends on Saturday night and didn't even have to think about how much it might cost. We just went and had a ball!

And paying our bills is so much easier. We have removed the stress of shuffling money around our accounts in the eternal search to make ends meet. With three kids in daycare two days a week and a couple of afternoons at OOSH for the other, you can imagine how much our monthly childcare bills are?

I can happily say that this six week stint will become the norm for us.

How do you manage your weekly bills?


14 comments:

Quill and Ink Handmade said...

We're doing something similar at the moment - but I'm struggling with fruit and veges, and making sure we have enough. Last week alone, I went back to the shops 3 times to re-stock, which is totally ridiculous.
Am quite liking the semi-vegetarian meals though - tonight we're having a spinach, roasted pumpkin and ricotta lasagne, with a pumpkin grown from our garden!

So glad you're budget is working so well :)

x

Diminishing Lucy said...

Oh well done well done! It's funny how what feels impossible at first becomes the norm?

I operate on a very similar method to yours. It works. And it means "windfall" money becomes a genuine windfall rather than a band aid...which is lovely.

xx

therhythmmethod said...

We need to do this. I said we would do this in the new year. And now it's nearly July.
All great ideas MM, particularly having meat free days. Meat is so costly, not just to the wallet, but to the planet.
Very inspiring!

Cathy said...

The use of cards in the cashless society has made it very easy to overspend! Great idea about withdrawing cash and only spending that much. Don't know if I could actually do it but very inspiring.

Alice Becomes said...

Very impressive! I am okay at budgeting. Need to improve so I might borrow some of your tips. Good on you for finding a system that works for you. Gill xo

1000 Homes of Happiness said...

Love your thoughts and ideas here. Also loved popping back to your part one. We are shockers at returning Vids and library books on time...eeeek!

I agree, the vegetarian option once a week is a preference in our little home. I find if we don't menu plan and eat random meals throughout the week the temptation to visit the supermarket is greater. Which always pushes our budget over the limit.

Agree also on the fruit and Veg....The little cherubs in this house consume loads of it and we find we need to visit the green grocer at least two - three times a week.

The winter veggie patch is not quite as bountiful this time of year as well.

You have inspired me to rein in our spending...again.

Thank you!

xoxox

Maxabella said...

You are always so full of good ideas and DISCIPLINED with them too. I admire your money management skills greatly and always have. x

Naturally Carol said...

I don't have to budget so much at the moment..but like to live on basics anyway 'cos it is so much better for us to eat seasonally and simply. I haven't bought flour and sugar for a few weeks now..so I don't get tempted to make bikkies and cakes when looking for a snack. We have bought a lot more fruit and veg and love eating it when it's just brought home and fresh.

Lisa said...

Good on you! We have all our bills paid out of one account and we are trying something new - not spending! I gave hubby's my cards and kept $30 for myself. He does not go into shops unless there is a need, I'm our shopper. It's working so far. Great post!

Kelly said...

I really should take a think about doing this myself. I have no idea how much we spend on food aweek...shop almost daily. I know that I must spend more because of it!

Mama of 2 boys said...

That sounds fantastic! Well done for planning and implementing such a successful regime. It is SO incredibly hard to do, but looks like you're on a winner. I always feel rather clever when I make multiple dishes from the same ingredients. I also try not to do too much meat in the meals. I love mince meat for cooking a variety of things... and it goes down well with everyone too!
Child care is frightening, we are about to commence paying for 2 children 2 days per week. I resent it for the fact that I'd rather be home with the boys anyway AND just how darn costly it is. Thank heavens for the 50% rebate!

Tricia said...

We have to use cash to stick to a budget also. Each fortnight we pay all the bills online and then divvy out the fortnights budget into envelopes. We often steal from one envelope to feed another - but at least overall it reduces our spending. When we first started the system I was horrified by how much we were spending on day-to-day stuff that we didn't really need.

We eat mostly vegetarian also - but if you want to add a red meat that is good for the environment and also your budget - check out Kangaroo. It's available at all the supermarkets these days and considerably cheaper than other red meat. But I recommend you stay away from the Roo Bangers - the're not good. I've got a few good sources of recipes if you are interested.

Jen said...

Ahh the fun of managing money. When my husband and I moved into our first apartment before kids we used to take $80 in a little plastic envelope down to Aldi and that was our food budget for the week. These days 8 years later with two kids and a dog it is far more than that and we dont use cash anymore but I think that is what we need to start doing asap as it is the only way to not overspend. Enjoy reading about your ideas on this topic.

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

We've been trying to stick to a bit of a 'no spend' ideal, so apart from groceries and essentials, everything else faces the 'do I really need this?" test, and usually the answer is no! Some weeks we succeed more than others but we're trying :)

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