Friday, August 21, 2009

Frugal Fridays!

Times are tight. I'm sure we have all been affected in some way by the recession, so on Fridays I will try to post some money saving tips and techniques. To start off the posts I would like to discuss the family budget. I have found the family budget to be invaluable. Being a stay-at-home mom means that we have to be cautious with our money. I am so thankful for the gift of being able to stay at home with our children, and the least I can do in thanksgiving for this to make sure we are being good stewards with our resources.

I am the one responsible for maintaining our family's budget. Of course, we decide how and where to allocate the money together, but I am the one who is charge of calculating the budget and maintaining it daily. I use an Excel balance sheet to organize and monitor our transactions. Each category of our budget has an individual balance sheet, which I keep in a budget folder on the computer. The following categories are what make up our family's budget.

  • Mortgage (includes taxes and home insurance)
  • Dental insurance
  • Home repairs
  • Entertainment/clothing
  • Tithe
  • Food
  • Gas
  • Miscellaneous (household items, baby needs, stamps, etc.)
  • Christmas/birthday/anniversary
  • Home utilities (Gas, water, electricity)
  • Phone/Internet/cable
  • Health Savings
  • General Savings
  • Car repairs
  • Auto Insurance
  • Retirement
  • Income Tax returns
We re-evaluate our budget every July. This is because July begins a new pay period for Jason, which usually means an increase in pay. Every year we decide how much we need in each category. Some categories are fixed each year and each month. For example, I know that every month our mortgage is going to be the same amount. We first go through our categories and calculate all of our fixed expenses. Then we figure out what is remaining and divide that money among the other categories, such as food, entertainment, and presents. I am very precise in budgeting, so every penny is budgeted, and every penny is later accounted for as it is spent. Once we figure out how much we need in each category we divide it by 12, since Jason in paid monthly. Then every payday, I input that amount of money into the balance sheet on Excel.

Throughout the month as I make purchases I subtract that amount from the appropriate category. In order to make this system work we ask for a receipt for EVERYTHING. Yes, I am one of those annoying people who will ask for a receipt for an item that costs $.49. Then we place receipts in the designated place in the house until I can input them into the balance sheet. Keeping track of our spending allows me to monitor where our money is going and helps me to know how much money we can spend each month. I, of course, always like to set the goal of underspending in certain categories, so it ends up being a competition with myself sometimes. If I do have excess in a certain category I roll it over to the next month.

I imagine that some people may find this budget to be constricting. However, I find great freedom in knowing I have a certain amount of money to spend on certain items. We always prayerfully consider how to be stewards of our resources, and God has always blessed us. Our budget has been a tremendous tool for us and has helped us manage our money wisely. Living on a budget has helped us achieve our goal of me staying at home.

Luke 14:28-30
For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish. ‘”

No comments:

Post a Comment