Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Adding new ideas to our strategies

We've been somewhat dilligent in our strategies to reduce our spending, as so far it has worked to some extent. I hadn't been able to really pinpoint where all our money was going, but I do know we were spending way too much. Especially on things that didn't really matter. We weren't saving anything and our debt was crippling us. I developed a budget that takes consistent tweaking, but had developed general guidelines for our spending. I'm making deposits into our emergency fund, RRSP accounts, RESP accounts, car fund, christmas fund, vacation fund, and house downpayment fund. These deposits are somewhat small and irregular at the moment, but they are slowly increasing and will continue to do so as my income stabilizes.

The next steps for our family will be to incorporate a few small strategies to see if we can make them work for us.

1) The $5 Envelope; I will be keeping an envelope with my budgeting envelopes that will only be labled as $5. When I break a larger bill and am given a $5 bill amongst the change, I will take this $5 bill and put it in the $5 Envelope. At the end of the week, the contents of this envelope will be deposited into our chequing account in order to make an additional payment on our debtload.

2) Freezer meals; Due to the inconsistency of my work, I often find that there are days that I am not able to make a supper meal from scratch. When I make a meal, I will double up once per week, and make a casserole or other freezer friendly meal that will be reheated on one of our busy nights.

3) Kitty litter alternative; Let me just say first that we don't have a feline in our home. However, I tend to spend money on two very nice cats who share an apartment with our oldest daughter and her roommate. They have very limited incomes right now, and often, kitty litter doesn't make it onto their budget. I loathe to think about the clay-based litter, full of kitty by-products, placed into a plastic bag, tightly tied, ending up in the landfill to sit for hundreds of years without ever breaking down. How sad. so, I've resolved to research some bio-degradeable, earth-friendlier alternatives that my budget, the girls and the kitties can live with.

4)Thinking ahead to Christmas; Our family celebrates Christmas, although we are not religious. For most of my lifetime, I have dreaded this holiday as it conjures up bad memories from my past, and I certainly have never been happy with the consumerism that the holidays bring. Any parent who has ever heard the words, "Is that it?", from an over-indulged child knows the heartbreak that all the pressure from advertising can cause. I plan this year to have a family discussion regarding holiday expectations. Ideally, I would like to see our family develop more holiday traditions like baking and singing carols together instead of spending our time cruising the malls, looking for that perfect 'gift'. I would also like our relations to spend their time, instead of their money for gifts for our family. This won't be met with alot of resistance from outer family thankfully, due to the nature of their respective beliefs and postions in life.

Much to do this week, and I've yet to start working on accomplishing a goal that is way overdue.

Until next time....

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Learning the basics of home cooking

I read an interesting article today about how to save money on your grocery budget by meal planning, buying in bulk and making the majority of your meals at home from scratch. I have always liked this idea, but lacked the basic kitchen knowledge in order to make the easiest of things like bread, soup or stew. My kitchen knowledge has always been very limited, and attempts in the past to learn to cook were met with ridicule from my former partner.

More Month than Money: Tightening Your Food Budget While Feeding Your Family Well by Tracy Rimmer is a downloadable document that may serve as a basis for me learn things that I had always thought were outside of my abilities. I used to think that making bread was an enormous task, and that making stew that was delicious and thick was next to impossible. Rimmer provides basic recipes that one should learn when trying to feed a family of any size.

She also provides a sample of weekly meal planning, accompanied by weekly and monthly grocery lists, as well an annual grocery list to illustrate the idea of planning similar weekly meals and purchasing in bulk could save you money on your grocery bills.

To view the downloadable document, visit New Century Homestead.com or http://www.newcenturyhomestead.com/documentcategory?category=FoodPlanning