And, alas, here we are in March. February came and went ever so quickly. Below are the four main things that we try to do to help us keep our finances in check.
1) We examine our budget.
- What are our goals for the year? What do we need to save for travels, vacations and home improvements or other big expenses? This year we needed to add a goal of paying off a medical bill debt. We ask ourselves: Do we need to add money to this area of our budget or spend less in another area? What are family needs? Individual wants? We have several different incomes, so we look over what (and how much) will our sources of income be for the year?
2) We shop less for food.
- We buy only essentials. We try to limit our food to what we have in our food storage. This does force us to meal plan better and to take inventory of what we have in our basement and freezer. This can be overwhelming, but with planning it out --- it very doable.
3) We go over our services to see if we can find a better deal.
- Services include: internet, phone, cable and insurances. I am often amazed but how much companies charge and when you start to shop around and are willing to switch carriers.
- We currently don't have cable and our phone is just a basic land line. With our internet and insurances, there are deals all over the place. When we did have cable (which we get every four years so my sweetheart can watch his World Cup), deals would appear when I called. First I would ask for any specials they have available for us. If that didn't pan out, I would mention we were looking around for another provider. And if that didn't bring any deals, we would cancel. But it would only be for a day or two----because almost instantly, they would call, email and send out a plethora of deals if we would return to them. Here is another article on how a family was able to reduce their fees.
4) We look over our bills.
- Gas, electricity, natural gas (to heat our home), and water bills. How can we lower these bills? Are there services we are being charged for that we are not using? Is there ways we can reduce driving our cars? Can we combine trips? Walk or bike more? Need ideas to get started, this article is a great starting place with 20 inexpensive ideas.
This isn't about how cheap we can become for us. It is a chance to step back and see: What are we doing right? Where are we? What are our financial goals for the year? How and where can we improve?
I love what Sarah wrote on her blog, Besos and Bubbly: She and her husband are doing a financial fast for lent. She writes, The financial fast is a "... chance to cut back on the indulgences and the decadence of the holidays, an opportunity to re-assess and re-group in a new year, a time to usher in the re-birth of spring with the mindfulness of a personal cleanse that I think is a healthy practice for all."
And that, my friends, is