Budget… What Budget?

Recently I took at gander at our finances by using Mint.com. The chart above is from our September spending (which is depressing). It’s a great finance tool that let’s you keep a budget and keeps track of it all by accessing information from your online bank accounts. Love it!

I haven’t looked at our finances in a while due to the whirlwind of our Master Bedroom maker over and to my surprise I realized that hubs and I were spending a lot of money! Who would have ever thought that was possible.

Although a lot of our spending has been going towards the Master Bedroom including new bedroom furniture, mattress, paint, and bedding. However, Eric and I allow ourselves on large project each year. This year it was the master bedroom which we have talked about doing for almost three years. Crazy how time flies.

One of the items I noticed we were spending the most money on was food. This sort of shocked me until I looked at all the transactions on Mint.com and saw all the food related transactions. Not only were we eating out more but our grocery bills have significantly increased since going organic and purchasing more produce. Great for your bodies, awful for the budget.

Solution?

1.) Eat out only once a week – This means no more fast food runs in the middle of the week because we are too tired to make dinner. I hope to achieve this by purchasing quick and easy meals for those nights when we just don’t feel like making the dinner we planned. Healthy TV dinners and soups are great for those specific nights. It’s also a healthier option to picking up a burger and fries from Wendy’s.

2.) Visit the Farmer’s Market – I used to be so good about going to the Farmer’s Market and then I started to slack. The Farmer’s market is a great place to get in season produce at a cheaper price than your local grocers. But steer clear of those produce stands that have bananas or kiwi, they are obviously not grown here and not in season. Visit your local farmer’s website and I’m sure you will find a “What’s in Season” page just like our NC farmer’s provide. Make sure to create a grocery list prior to visiting the Farmer’s Market or you will end up either buying more than you need or nothing and spending that money at the grocery store.

3.) Cook in Season – This goes hand in hand with number two. You save money by cooking in season. Not to mention you will get to explore new areas of cooking in seasons such as the winter when there is limited fresh produce available. If you can find a greenhouse by you that will open your possibilities as well to cook different types of produce year-round.

4.) Stock up on Staple Items on Sale – For example, Eric loves his homemade humus in the Vita-Mix and we prefer to use organic garbanzo beans. Every few weeks Harris Teeter puts them on sale $10 for 10 when they are usually $1.30 or more. When the do we stock up and that usually lasts us until it’s time for another $10 for 10 sale.

If you are looking for ways to stay on track with your budget you should definitely check out Mint.com. It’s a great website, easy to use, and it’s free. Who can say no to free? Also, if you have a smart phone they have an app for that so that you can check on your budget at any time. You can even set alerts when you are getting too close to your budget. Pretty cool stuff.

What are your budget saving techniques?

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