Monday, November 5, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Live Well On Less: Budgets

A proper finishing school would have included instruction on managing the household budget and domestic staff. (We'll get to the servants later!)
So many experts today provide financial advice, I didn't know where to begin our lesson.

Instead, I thought I'd give you a peek inside my handbag. Its contents can make or break the household budget:

Do you know where your money goes?

Have you ever paid with a credit card because your cash was floating in a layer of crumpled receipts, disposable diapers, and school papers? You're not alone.

Now we use Dave Ramsey's no credit method--we pay cash for our daily purchases. Spending cash registers in your brain in a way that swiping plastic does not.

I think Dave would be pleased that I bought his Financial Peace envelope system at a yard sale! Before that, I used free money envelopes from our bank. We withdraw cash and sort it into envelopes for groceries, entertainment, car, clothing and so on. When the envelope is empty, the spending is done. Leftover money adds to the next month's total.

Two exceptions: we pay bills online (no stamps), and I pay at the gas pump with a debit card.

Change goes into a coin purse for yard sales, perhaps the only place left where a quarter can buy something of value!

My wallet holds other important tools:
  • a calculator, so I can figure the lowest unit prices at the grocery
  • store loyalty cards for every grocery nearby
  • membership cards to the zoo and museum
  • Smart Card and other discount cards from the Farm Bureau, etc.
  • zippered pocket to hold EVERY receipt, which I enter in Quicken later
  • "wish list" of needs and sizes which may jog my memory while thrift shopping
  • tape measure for used furniture and building supplies
  • pay-as-you-go Tracfone, minutes for which I buy discounted on Ebay, is the modern equivalent of coins for the phone booth
  • stamps, so no bills or thank-you-notes are forgotten
  • one hidden credit card, only to be used in travel emergencies
My handbag holds everything I need for saving money at the grocery store:
  • A watch lets me know when I'm taking too long--extra minutes shopping means extra money spent!
  • My grocery list is always based on what's on sale that week. I read the grocery ads online and plan my menu from the ads--not the other way around. I only buy groceries on sale, and if possible, buy enough to last until the next sale.
  • My simple coupon file holds the "best deal" coupons of the week I clip according to the Coupon Mom's Cut Out Hunger site. Her FREE online chart helps you figure out which coupons to cut for each week's grocery ads.

  • Today's assignment: organize your handbag--and organize your budget! If your money is out of control, take a week and write down every penny you spend.

    New to Like Merchant Ships? Here are all the lessons in our Live Well On Less week of study!

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