Monday, September 29, 2008

Money......

So Money is on every one's mind right now!! We are no exception! Luckily, we are not in the unfortunate group of people whose lives are being directly rocked by the situation on wall street. It does of course remind us all of the uncertainty of life and make us think more carefully about the ways that we're spending our money and what kind of stewards we're being of what God has given us. It also brings into light the great need that will be arising of those in our community. We've decided to take action. We are going to buckle down on our finances and pray for and look for ways to help those who are struggling around us. Matthew decided the best way to do this was to first become more aware of where our money is going and what we're spending it on. That way we can be more aware of where we're faltering and where we're blowing money that we may not even realize. So Saturday afternoon Matthew downloaded Microsoft Money to our computer and synced it with our bank account, investments, etc.... WHAT A SHOCK!!

We realized that our only frivolous expense is our cable and Internet. However, last month we downgraded both of these and have cut our monthly expense on these things significantly.

But our eyes were opened to where we're throwing our money away at!!!!! Are you ready???

Drum roll please.................


FOOD!! My goodness..... you would think we each weighed 500lbs if you looked at the money we spend on food! Up to this point we were going out to eat twice a week. We would go out once on Friday or Saturday night for "date night," and once after church for lunch. We occasionally get fast food type lunches on the run, or a milkshake for a treat. Boy do those luxuries come with a price when you look at it over the span of a month or two. And the money we had budgeted for food...... we more than doubled!! SO... we are going to take action....

A couple of weeks ago I was on Facebook and the "status" of one of my "facebook friends" caught my eye. It said "looking for more ideas on $7 meals... check out my blog." (Or something close to that....) Well it caught my eye. She's obviously a smart gal and has been coming up with $7 meals for her and her husband!! Well that's one bandwagon that I'm hopping on.

So how are we going to put what we learned in action??

1) We're limiting our eating out to once a week. This has already proved to be difficult, but we succeeded last week... so we're off to a good start.

2) Cut WAY down on grocery bills. This means less snack-type foods to put in our lunch bags, less junk food (which will be good for us anyways), less individually packaged (therefore more expensive) lunch alternatives (AKA my Campbell's sippable soups at $1.67 each instead of regular canned soups at $0.87 each.)

4) Try the $7.00 meal plan (preferably ones that can provide left overs for lunches.)

5) Coupons.... I'm going to try really hard to start using these!! This requires much more organization than my current complete LACK of organization when it comes to planning meals and planning my shopping.

SO this is where I need your help!!!!

Please email me any ideas you have on cheap meal ideas. This can be casseroles, crock pot meals.... whatever!! So please put them in the comment section so anyone who visits can see!!

Thanks!!

4 comments:

Kristen Hughes said...

Hey Julie... what a cute blog. I don't know if you remember me but I'm Chad's sister (the other Julie's sister-in-law), we sat together at Chad & Julie's rehearsal dinner. If there is one thing I love its a financial challenge....Hmmm, meals for less than $7. I don't track the prices of individual meals as much but here are a few helpful hints I've learned that have greatly reduced my grocery bill. Some of them might seem obvious but just give it a shot and I think you'll be surprised. If you have the space stock up like crazy when there are sales. Our grocery store frequently does buy one get one free sales and I literally fill up a cart with the item if its non-perishable and we use it a lot (i.e. juice, canned goods, pasta/rice, condiments, meats you can freeze). Don't be afraid to go over your grocery budget one week if it means you'll save twice as much in the long run. One thing I do to help encourage taking our lunches to work is I pre-bag things as soon I buy them. For example, if I buy a canteloupe, as soon as I get home I cut it up into chunks and divide it evenly in ziploc bags and put it in the fridge so I can grab one to stick in my lunch. Make it a game to try to empty out the fridge before things start to go bad. The amount of food we waste is insane. Don't be afraid to substitute things in recipes. I never pay more than $2 a lb for chicken or hamburger. Don't be loyal to one grocery store, go where the sales are that week. Most grocery stores have their weekly fliers online. Check out buying bulk coupons on ebay (only if you buy something frequently). Hope some of this helps... I'll keep thinking about the $7 meal thing. Oh check out http://printable-coupons.blogspot.com/2005/10/retail-coupons.html for some grocery coupons!

Michael and Heather Good said...

Here we go... You have to register @ grocerygame.com, it costs a few $ every 10 wks, but would save you TONS! I mean 40% or more....You will save more @ than you spend...You can get your list and coupons together one day and shop the next to save you time. Other coupons sites include
Couponmom.com
freebies4mom.com
hotcouponworld.com
moneysavingmom.com
thesimpledollar.com
bettycrocker.com
boodle.com
boxtops4education.com
coolsavings.com
coupons.com
couponsinc.com
eatbetteramerica.com
eversave.com
pillsbury.com
redplum.com
smartsource.com

Michael and Heather Good said...

Ok, so here is a reciepe or two.. holy cow, there are tons!
cook 1 whole chicken in the crockpot seasoned with anything ou choose, garlic, salt, pepper, (blah,blah you all know what I am talking about SEASON THE CHICKEN people! ;) chicken broth then 1 hr before eating shred chicken add 1 bag of frozen corn and a box of spaghetti noodles. Wha-La! Homeade Chicken Noodle Soup for approx. $7----and lots of leftovers! or you could only make enough for dinner and lunch the next day then use left over chicken to make chix salad or pasta the next day!

Laura said...

You should use mint.com instead of microsoft money. Jason uses it to do our finances. It has a lot of features and is easier to use! At least we work in the healthcare industry right?