Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Little & Often

Last year was a budget buster for us.  Well... I guess it would have been had we actually been following a good budget. Sadly, I have never been a good budget-er.  Something I am working hard to correct this year, especially after last year.

Last year, not only did our income go down (again) but we had a lot of extras, some big, some small, but when added together they equaled chaos.

I have felt the LORD prompting me to get this area of life put into order.  Therefore, we are starting off the new year with a new budget system.  I used tips from a couple well known financial experts, to pull together a plan of attack.  Then went to the 100 yen shop (dollar store) to get a few envelopes to help organize things.  The fun colors should make budgeting more fun & less painful, right? 


I am pretty sure I have forgotten to add a few items to the budget worksheet.  I am sure we will need to twink things along the way, but I have faith that within a couple months we should be switched over to a mostly cash system & things will be looking up.

Truth be told, simply having a budget won't get us where we want to be: financially stable.  The budget will have to be followed and, to begin with especially, we will need to be extra frugal so that we can actually get switched over.  To get our heads above water.   This in mind, in order to get some new ideas, I have been reading some blogs from frugal moms.  These encourage me to keep at it.  They help me remember that little & often makes a difference.   Here are some of the little things I have been doing, as well as, a few new tricks I will be adding.

  • Save veggie scraps in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  Add onion skins, carrot peels, broccoli leaves, cabbage hearts, etc. - you know the parts you usually throw away.  When the bag is full make veggie stock.
  • Save the juice from cooking to use as a soup base later... i.e. we have Carolina Pork at New Years.  I froze the left over liquid.  Yesterday, I took the container of "juice" added 2 containers of veggie stock, some veggies & pasta and we have some amazing soup for lunch. 
  • Keep a bucket in the shower.  Instead of running water down the drain while you wait for the water to get hot, put it in the bucket.  Dump the bucket into the washer.
  • Switch to soap nuts for laundry.  Not only do I get a natural, no chemical wash, but by taking the nuts out between the wash cycle & the rinse cycle, I can step down the water level for the rinse, saving a few liters of water with each wash.
  • Unplug electric cords, chargers, etc when they are not in use.  Electricity is going to those cords even thought it has no place to go.  This one I need to be more vigilant on.
  • Stop paying extra fees... i.e. there is a 108 yen fee every time an use the ATM after hours, on weekends or holidays, here in Japan.
  • Write down every thing you buy.  This is a new tip and a little tedious, BUT it makes me stop & think before I spend.
  • Accountability... before making that on-line purchase, run the purchase by a friend.  1st it gives you time to think about it.  2nd it gives you a second opinion as to if the purchase is really necessary.
  • Don't spend those 1 & 5 yen coins (pennies & nickels).  Every time I get a 1 or 5 yen coin I put them in my pocket then when I get home I put them in a jar.  When the jar gets full take it to the bank. 

 All of these are little things, but added together they can help loosen up the budget.  They can give breathing space where air is short.  So, do you follow a budget?  Do you have any other tips?  Let me know!

1 comment:

mama Barr said...

You are already doing far more than I do... or will do. So, I will just pass along my system.
I have made up a spreadsheet... printed one up for each month. I don't really work on a budget... rather, I keep a record of what bills come in and when... and how much I paid on them. This took a few years for everything to fall into place. I can't remember exactly when I opened up the spreadsheet master to tweak it for the new year. But, I do know that when the new year rolled around, the only panic I had was that I didn't have an appointment calendar (that's a different topic, I know)
So, what does my spreadsheet look like?
It's printed in landscape, not portrait. Down the lefthand column is a list of general expenses that will come in the month. Recently, I also added the date of when they were due. The rest of the page has 10 columns (for that odd month when things seem to fall into five weeks instead of four. Across the top: above the list of bills is the month. then I fill in the weekends, every other column. I make note of what weekends have an income coming in. Then, I distribute the bills according to the weekend I can anticipate making payment on them. When I actually to make payment, I change out the estimate (determined by previous payments) for the actual charge. In the blank column before, I write in the date of when I actually made the payment. I can see at a glance what bills to expect... as well as what bills I have paid.
Now, after the bills have been paid, I have another spreadsheet of expenses which relate directly to paying taxes. I never pay the bills without filling in the monthly spreadsheet. However, the bills do tend to collect on my desk afterward waiting for me to file them away and make appropriate records on the tax spreadsheet.
I'll try to pm you those two files through fb. I work on WordPerfect, so I don't think they will come through. I'll try to save as Microsoft Word and send it to you. I don't know if the spreadsheets will survive the conversion. If any of this makes anything easier for you... I'm glad. If not, just keep up the good work!