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Cash Envelope Systems

June 5th, 2007 at 12:16 am

We've always been good with credit cards, never having a balance that we haven't paid off in full the entire time we use them, but we also tend to eat out a bit more.

I started using a cash envelope system a few months ago and have saved about $200 a month that I can use towards school expenses or paying off debt.

We still use credit cards for gas, home repairs and other things that I don't find it convient for/don't want to keep cash around for and that we don't have any "wiggle room in."

I set up cash systems for the groceries. Combined with sales, coupons, stocking up, and cooking from scratch we are eating healthier and spending half the amount we used to. Once the money is gone, there's no more. We are on a budget of $160/month for two to three people (depends on the week). $40 a week buys meat, fish, beans, whole grains, fresh/frozen fruits and veggies and staples. I've learned with just a few things you can make A LOT of things. The OAMC concept on a smaller scale has helped.

I also have a cash system for entertainment/recreation which includes vacation money. Vacations are pretty cheap--- we go camping/hiking and sometimes backpacking.

I also have a cash system for personal spending money --- this is wonderful. I never feel guilty about spending money on myself anymore. I could never justify buying a CD or a treat like a hot chocolate or soft pretzel or even a new plant for the house. I always felt that money should just go to pay bills. Now that I have cash and it's for me to just do whatever I want -- it's this freedom and relief in the budget that I never had. It's not a lot, but there's this money that's just for ME and I don't need to justify spending it to myself.

So, cash had worked well. It also makes tracking a little easier -- with a few less reciepts to enter into Quicken. I could really enjoy this. Smile

How do you feel about cash spending? Do you only spend cash? Do you just use credit cards? Or do you do a combination like we do?

OAMC Cooking DONE! and $10 more to savings challenge

April 16th, 2007 at 12:43 am

Well, it's been a long day but I got the following OAMC done today:

5 days of chili
4 days of taco chicken
2 days of orange chicken
2 days of balsamic chicken
4 days of black bean quesidillas
4 days of whole-wheat lasagna/spinach rolls (vegetarian)
4 days of whole-wheat pizzas
2 days of meatloaf
4 days of vegetarian stir=fry
4 days of red pepper spaghetti sauce
Whole wheat pancakes, french toast for breakfast on the weekends.

Also walked 10 miles this weekend, adding $10 to my savings challenge. I can't wait to put my new totals up for April in a few weeks.

Homemade cornbread, barley pilaf, mexican brown rice, blueberry whole-wheat oatmeal muffins, raspberry sorbet. Also have lots of frozen veggies and will buy fresh veggies/fruit for the coming weeks. Also put together several whole wheat bread mixes so I can use the breadmaker to make fresh bread 1-2x a week as needed.

Grocery Shopping Done for the Month

April 14th, 2007 at 08:52 pm

So far for the month I have spent about $140 for all my grocery shopping, dining out etc. I have $60 more, but I just bought enough stuff to do a OAMC session here. Getting ready to start working on my thesis after classes are done at school in the evening, leaving me no time to cook. So tomorrow I am planning to cook for the month, write up the schedule. Maybe DH can put things in the oven before I get home around 9p.m. to make dinner a bit faster.

So I am adding $40 to my savings challenge and leaving $20 for fresh fruits/veggies over the next two weeks.

Getting Motivation

April 13th, 2007 at 10:54 pm

Are you ever working on a really hard project, say paying off debt or getting through school, worked really hard for a year and just feel like you have no more motivation? I am there. DH is amazing -- working a lot to help us and finish getting me through school with no debt. I'm doing the shopping, finances, cooking, house cleaning, school (which is 40+hours in class plus another 4-6 at home each night), laundry, volunteering (20 hr/wk) and trying to satisfy family and friends while keeping in shape/losing weight. I'm tired and I've just lost motivation. So this is my rant. I know others do more, and I've done more but it feels like I've been working forever full steam ahead. I can't wait til I graduate a nice 60 hour a week job would be nice. Wink

So to motivate myself, I am going to spend the next hour doing nothing -- absolutely nothing but breathing. Then I am going to get a fresh sheet of paper (or a blank computer screen) and redefine what I need to get done in the next month. Come May I think I'm going to start that process over. Now remember - stop, breath, pause and refocus.

Falling behind again.

February 27th, 2007 at 09:55 pm

Well the last two weeks have been tough with school and I haven't even hit our major midterm tests (3 more weeks). I've fallen behind in trying to make contributions to our Roth accounts. I've fallen behind in the housework. Even worse I am struggling with getting all this information organized and somehow crammed into my brain. They say there's still room.. but somehow I am doubting it. I've never been good at memorizing things -- concepts great. Memorization. Ugh.

However, I also haven't had time to buy anything! Our spending is about the same as it was two weeks ago. Going to do a couple store runs this week, but it's almost getting harder to find stuff we need and spend the grocery money. As I've been shopping sales with coupons, we've been stocking up. If I bring home any more pasta, DH would kill me. Smile Still some things that I would love to have a bigger stock of. I'm aiming for a 3-12 month stock of items depending on what they are. Meats are closer to 3 and toiletries are 1 year.

As I was clearing out closets, I was making room for my stockpile of stuff we use. We have a grand total of 3 small closets in the house, tiny rooms and just about no wall space. I love my house! No seriously I do for now, just hoping in a few years to have one that's a little more "remote," with more land and more natural light with an open floor plan.

To add to my savings:
$5 from a survey

Kitchen organization almost done!

December 16th, 2006 at 06:57 pm

What a great feeling. I spent the last two days going through the kitchen. I have to say most of the problem was just pulling everything out, putting into gladware containers (dried fruit, cereal, etc). Easy to see where everything is now and it fits in 1/2 the space. Thankfully our county has recycling for the plastic and cardboard containers. I've also cut and packaged what feels like a million meals that I can pull out of our freezer (or DH) and make when I get home from school. Looks like our grocery budget will be decreasing even more in the coming months. Smile

We've also been working on house projects -- painting the front door, fixing cracks in the plater, putting up pictures and paintings.

Now onto the last project for the weekend -- finishing DH's music room.

Organizing, Decluttering and Other House Projects

December 14th, 2006 at 04:57 pm

Now that school is "done" for winter break. (Not really, as I have a paper and stuff to write over break, but 2h is better than 12 a day!) I am getting ready to work on going through the house. I am hoping to get rid of anything not used in a year, but more importantly to try to find storage space as I have all of three-half size closets in the entire house -- one in each bedroom and precious little in the way of wall space. Ideas are greatfully appreciated. Especially for extra kitchen "pantry" storage.

However, interdispered with this, I'll be able to get some major projects done I've been hoping to do for a while.
(a) Painting the front door
(b) Reorganizing the kitchen
(c) Lining some drapes for our windows (hopefully will help a bit with the winter)
(d) Fill up the freezer with easy meals, so when I start back to school it will be easier to make things and not feel like "takeout"
(e) Get in the habit of exercising in the morning. I've done this for two days so far...