I can't think of one person that isn't carefully watching their money right now. Everyone I know has been affected by the current state of our economy. Whether it be a lost job, a reduction in hours or benefits, the higher price of things.
While I think I am a fairly conservative with my money I can be a bit of a spendthrift in certain areas. Like magazines. Is there a 12-step program for us magazineoholics? And craft supplies. I amass stuff and then do nothing with it.
Late in December I decided to sit down and draft a budget. I went through the year's spending and figured out how much certain set expenses were (cell phone, cable, car insurance, etc.). Then I figured out how much I was spending on groceries, shopping, rubber stamps. Ouch. I figured the set expenses are pretty hard to pare down without getting rid of them all together (we haven't come that far yet) but in other areas I could vastly improve.
I started my budget on January 1st. I just spent the last of my gasoline money yesterday so I'm good for the month. I am over my grocery budget by $68 already and we still have four days left in the month (we will presumably want to eat on those days). I'm trying to pare down my cellphone charges and I'm headed in the right direction but I still went over by $40 this month.
I have implemented a 'no tossing a magazine into the grocery cart' rule. If I want a magazine it has to come out of my $20 a week allowance. Which is also for the occasional lunch out, craft supplies, non-essential beauty supplies, that sort of thing. It's a good thing I don't have a Starbucks habit.
I give myself a C+ for the month. I think I'm on the right track anyway. I do have some areas where I can improve - like better meal planning which should help the grocery budget.
I have to admit I'm kind of enjoying myself. I think that comes from a feeling of taking control. While I certainly can't control the economy I do feel good that I'm taking steps to improve my own situation.
(By the way - the quilt in the picture was made by Nicki and I think the pattern is called Pop-Beads. I love the 30's repo prints and I think it is a perfect backdrop for a post about saving and economizing. I'm feeling a bit 30's-ish lately. Next we'll get into the 40's and talk about Victory gardens....)